In the midst of Euro 96, with the French making a decent show in a major tournament for the first time in a decade, far-right charmer Jean Marie Le Pen found little cause to celebrate the team's progress.
The French team was an 'artificial' entity.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/266977766" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
He said that the team was 'not reflective of French society' and that there were too many black players in the team.
He singled out Desailly, who'd been born in Ghana, and Corentin Martins, whom he alleged held joint French-Portugeese citizenship. He also drew attention to the players who were sons of immigrants, Djorkaeff and Zidane included.
It was a theme he returned to throughout his political career.
Many people criticised Raymond Domenech during his memorable reign as French manager. In 2006, Le Pen criticised him for reasons other than those normally seen in L'Equipe, when he said that France could not recognise itself in the team. Again, too many black players had been selected. Ironically, Le Pen seemed to pipe up during tournaments where France ultimately performed well.
Le Pen solemnly promised to investigate the nationality of these French players were he ever to come to power. Such claims didn't do his political movement irreparable harm.
Far from it, he notoriously beat the Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the first round of voting for the French Presidency in 2002, meaning he went forward to face Jacques Chirac for the keys to the Elysee Palace. He was slaughtered but that he got that far was deemed a cause for concern and navel gazing by the French establishment.
Today, in an interview with Marca, Karim Benzema sensationally accused Deschamps of pandering to the French far-right in excluding him.
He (Deschamps) has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France. He has to know that in France the extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections.
Benzema was born in Lyon and is of Algerian descent.
Prior to this, most had assumed that the sextape business was a hard thing to get past. The stumbling block. But Benzema appears to regard that as a mere excuse, a side issue.
Benzema is the first professional footballer to ever be charged for involvement in blackmailing a teammate over a sextape.
The French Federation President Noel Le Graet previously suggested that it is necessary for squad unity that Benzema be dropped.
In his comments today, Benzema is building on jaw-dropping comments made last week by Eric Cantona, who said that Deschamps had omitted Benzema and Ben Arfa over their African roots.
Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.
Cantona and Deschamps despised each other during their days in the French national team. It was Cantona who employed the term 'water carrier' to describe Deschamps.
Deschamps lawyer has said that his clients intends to sue Cantona for slander over the remarks.