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Qlamqtar 2022 FIFA World Cup | Profile | FRANCE: Would still be nowhere if it weren’t for hosting France 98

***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***

The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about two moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.

But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at defending champions France, which has qualified for the World Cup 16 times, winning it twice, in 1998 and 2018.

This flag represents the nation that is better than every other one, on and off the field

FRANCE
Would still be nowhere if it weren’t for hosting France 98

France is the only team to win the World Cup after not qualifying for three straight World Cups

Nickname: Les Bleus
FIFA Ranking: 4 (August 2022)

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Qualified, top of group finishing above Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kazakhstan

Prior to the 1998 World Cup, France had basically done nothing at the World Cup. Considering their formidable pool of talent from which to choose (not only within its own European-based borders but also from its overseas territories), its position and political might in the administration of the game and a rich history of producing some of the game’s best ever players, it stank. And in the two World Cups before France 98, Les Bleus didn’t even manage to qualify. Then FIFA awarded it the rights to host the 1998 World Cup (for a second time), meddled with the draw so that it was impossible for France to meet Brazil before the final, it won the thing, and the rest is history.

This was a typical scene witnessed prior to France 1998

It’s amazing what not needing to qualify and being gifted qualification to a World Cup on your home turf can do, especially after blowing it in back-to-back qualifying campaigns beforehand. Before 1998, the French had experienced moderate success at the World Cup, reaching the semi-finals three times–most notably in 1982 when they failed to beat West Germany and advance to their first final, only because of Michel Platini getting decapitated by German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher. They finished third in their qualifying group and out of the playoff spots for the 1990 World Cup and in the 1994 edition, the French just needed to beat Israel at home (they lost 3-2) which meant they just needed a draw in their final match against Bulgaria at home to qualify for USA 94. Thanks to David Ginola mostly, they lost, again, and failed to qualify.

But it didn’t matter, because by the time of that disastrous night of the loss to the Bulgarians, France already knew it was due to host the tournament less than six years later.

France 98 rolled around, Les Bleus waltzed through the tournament, trounced Brazil in the final, then won Euro 2000, reached the final of the 2006 World Cup (only losing on penalties), as well as the final of Euro 2016 (again with a free pass, as hosts) and then won the World Cup for a second time in 2018, defeating Croatia in the final. The momentum, resources and advantages bestowed on the French team that have lead to its current dominant position are all due to FIFA in 1992 going, ‘Hey France, here you go: one World Cup tournament just for you. Don’t worry about this qualifying nonsense, we’ll take care of it.’

Thierry Henry removes his 2006 World Cup runners-up medal after losing the final to Italy, something impossible to imagine only a decade prior when the team couldn’t even qualify for the tournament

Due entirely to France being given the rights to host the World Cup in 1998–and most importantly not having to qualify, a challenge with which they had been clearly struggling with at that point–Les Bleus have now become the most successful national team of the last 24 years.

Thank FIFA giving sucky early 90s France a free pass in 1998 for this

One to watch: Paris Syndrome

Ahhhh… Paris… the City of Love. Glimmering, flawless, not a spot of litter anywhere, friendly locals, everyone decked out in the latest and hottest fashion, couples enamoured on every corner, mouth-watering cuisine wherever you wish, avant-garde artists and writers wherever you go, handsome and pretty strangers just waiting to talk to you… That’s Paris, right?

If you think it is, get ready to check yourself into a local Parisian hospital after you come down with a case of Paris Syndrome, the psychological condition experienced by tourists who come to the French capital with exaggerated expectations of beauty and grandeur, and are shocked to see that the city’s streets are not spotless, some locals are fucking assholes and that crime there is actually a thing.

A tourist enjoys the wonder of a typical magical Paris experience

Whether it’s after seeing the humungous giant pole the Eiffel Tower during the day, or simply getting pickpocketed on the metro, you may find yourself exhibiting symptoms of the Syndrome after walking a block off the Champs Elysees whereupon instead of stumbling upon a hidden Parisian culinary gem serving the finest French cuisine or a stunning Parisian stranger sporting the latest haute couture who then whisks you away and make you feel true love for the first ever time in your life, you find a dodgy pizza place whose chicken pizza first leaves you a little woozy and then next thing you know passed out on the floor of your hostel elevator after getting food poisoning, or being accosted by a group of three teenagers who calmly invite you to hand over your wallet and phone to them at knife point.

The Highpoint: World Cup winners, 2018 and 1998

In the space of just over 2 decades, France went from the World Cup wastelands to becoming the internationl benchmark to which all other nations aspire. Since their successive horrendous qualification failures in the late 80s and early 90s, France have played in two World Cup finals–winning two and losing the third only on–as well as reaching two European Championship finals–winning the trophy in 2000 and losing the other to Portugal in 2016. See?! There’s hope for you yet, Italy!!

Learn the lingo & speak like a local!

This is what to say when calling a French-speaking supermarket in search of your favourite type of chips even though they were in the vending machine the whole time (below)

Upcoming matches

UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE | LEAGUE A
22 Sep 2022
FRANCE 🇫🇷 x 🇦🇹 AUSTRIA

25 Sep 2022
DENMARK 🇩🇰 x 🇫🇷 FRANCE

FIFA WORLD CUP | GROUP STAGE
22 Nov 2022
FRANCE 🇫🇷 x 🇦🇺 AUSTRALIA

26 Nov 2022
FRANCE 🇫🇷 x 🇩🇰 DENMARK

30 Nov 2022
TUNISIA 🇹🇳 x 🇫🇷 FRANCE