Daily Show host Trevor Noah has responded to criticism from a French diplomat over comments the comedian made about the French World Cup team.
After France won the football tournament on July 15 against Croatia, Noah jokingly congratulated Africa on his show, as many of the French national players are of African heritage.
“Yes. Yes. Africa won the World Cup! Africa won the World Cup!” the South African comedian said.
He continued: “I get it. I get it. They have to say it’s the French team, but look at those guys - you don’t get that tan by hanging out in the South of France.”
Noah’s comments prompted a backlash from France’s ambassador to the US Gérard Araud, who sent Noah a letter in response.
In the letter, which Noah read aloud to the audience during his show, Araud said of Noah’s comments: “Nothing could be less true.”
“France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity,” the letter was quoted as saying, before suggesting that Noah’s joke about the players “deny their Frenchness.”
Araud also pointed out that, while many of the players may come from Africa, they “were educated in France. They learned to play soccer in France.”
“This, even in jest, legitimises the ideology which claims whiteness as the only definition of being French,” the ambassador wrote.
In response to the stern rebuttal, Noah defended his comments, stating that his intention was not to “exclude them from their Frenchness, but I’m rather using it to include them in my Africanness.
“I’m saying I see you, my French brother of African descent,” the comedian said - a sentiment that many Africans felt towards the French national team in the finals.
The host also argued that it seems as if the ambassador’s response suggested you can only be French or African and not both.
On social media, people defended both sides of the argument - with many siding with Noah’s point that the players can be both African and French.
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