Benzema and the National Anthem

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Benzema’s father reacts to the controversy surrounding his son and La Marseillaise

France continue with their World Cup campaign today. It’s a case of so-far, so-good for Les Bleus, who are guaranteed to be in the knock-out stages after two emphatic victories.

Much of their success is as a result of Karim Benzema’s inspirational performances. In recent days, however, there has been some backlash from people in France over the issue of the national anthem. Benzema is of Algerian parentage and while everyone is impressed with the Real Madrid’s performance on the field of play, many are less impressed with him not singing La Marseillaise before the game – even going so far as to question his loyalty to his native country.

In Brazil too, the player is already being feted as one of the stars of the tournament and Brazilian sports magazine Globoesporte met up with Benzema’s father Hafid. The latter has been criticized for “talking too much” by his famous son and this time, he agreed to be interviewed because, as he said “I’m talking to you because you’re from Brazil. We love this country – Karim does too.”

Hafid covers several subjects in the wide-ranging interview, where he talks about how proud he is of his son and of his recent exploits against Brazil: “He is like Napoleon who didn’t fight on his own. He guided an army that was behind him and he won for France. Karim wants to do the same, always putting himself at the service of the team.”

When the polemic surrounding the national anthem crops up, the tone of his argument is more defiant: “Zidane never sang either. I don’t understand it. Do you see the others all singing? Ribéry doesn’t sing and many of them don’t sing.” Hafid does point out that his son is very much a proud Frenchman: “Karim feels very much French at heart. He was born here, he grew up here and he studied here in this country that he loves. A lot of people don’t know this but he was asked to play for Algeria and he chose to play for France instead.”

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