Paris (AFP)

What if French athletes, long timid when it came to public debate, decided to imitate the Americans?

The video of the beating of a black man by police in Paris has sparked outrage from several big names, such as footballers Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé, as well as basketball player Rudy Gobert.

"My France hurts," Griezmann wrote on Thursday, a tweet accompanied by video from Loopsider media showing a producer called "Michel" beaten up by police officers in the entrance to a music studio in the 17th arrondissement of the capital.

The striker-star of the Blues mentions the account of the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, who announced the suspension of three agents after the outcry over the video, retweeted more than 125,000 times.

It is then his teammate in the jersey of the Blues Killian Mbappé who denounced "an unbearable video" and "unacceptable violence", caption of a photo of the bloody face of the producer.

The 2018 world champion added the lyrics to a song from Diam's entitled "Ma France à moi" and concluded his post by writing "STOP AU RACISME".

These positions come as France is plunged into a heated debate on police violence and the controversial proposal for a "comprehensive security" law, which provides, among other things, to penalize the malicious dissemination of images of police officers and is strongly opposed by NGOs and journalists' unions.

- "Keep filming everything!"


"Without the videos what would have happened for Michel? We would have preferred to believe the version of the police officers under oath? #Commedhab", tweets the world champion Benjamin Mendy, accompanied by a photo of the slogan "Who protects us from the police? "

pasted on a wall.

"Against this fringe of police officers who greatly overstep their rights by beating, even killing sometimes. Our cameras are our best weapons!", Abounds the international Espoirs Jules Koundé.

"Continue to film everything! Those who do their job well will have a good image. And cowards and liars will continue to be exposed. Whether it is one way or another", for his part tweeted Rudy Gobert, the pivot-star of Utah.

France is regularly shaken and divided by cases of violence committed by the police, sometimes fatal, as in the cases of Cédric Chouviat, delivery man suffocated after his arrest in January 2020, or Adama Traoré, who died in 2016 in controversial circumstances after his arrest by the gendarmes and erected as a symbol of police violence.

French international Samuel Umtiti and NBA basketball player Evan Fournier also entered the debate.

Their positions are all the stronger as they are rare in France, where committed athletes like Dominique Rocheteau, Lilian Thuram or Vikash Dhorasoo have always been in the minority.

A movement that seems to follow the trend in the United States, where taking a position on social issues is no longer taboo for athletes.

American football player Colin Kaepernick, the first sports star to denounce racism and police violence in the United States, led the way in 2016, at the cost of his sports career.

Just like the very militant footballer Megan Rapinoe, whose victory at the 2019 World Cup served as a megaphone in her fight for equal pay and against Donald Trump.

- "Black Lives Matter" is exported?


In 2020, the death of George Floyd, a black family man killed during a police check in Minneapolis, brought out of their silence many sportsmen of the North American major leagues.

In basketball, NBA players, led by superstar LeBron James, and WNBA Championship players have rallied heavily for the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Quickly joined by other baseball, football or ice hockey athletes and franchises.

The knee on the ground, gesture symbol of this commitment, then went around the world, including taken up by French footballers as the Mönchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram, son of Lilian.

And at the end of October, several figures of French football had interfered in the very sensitive debate around the caricatures of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, after the assassination of Professor Samuel Paty for showing these drawings in class.

Presnel Kimpembe, Karim Benzema or Mamadou Sakho had "liked" a message on Instagram from the sulphurous Russian wrestler Khabib Nurmagomedov denouncing these caricatures.

Kimpembe then backpedaled, removing his "like" and saying on Twitter "I play sports, not politics. I don't speak Russian either. I strongly condemn terrorism, all forms of violence without reservation, and all foul-smelling attempts at manipulation ".

© 2020 AFP