The offensive mocking of France forward Kylian Mbappe by some Argentina supporters during celebrations in Buenos Aires to welcome back the World Cup champions should be examined by FIFA, a top French government official said.
During Argentina’s joyous return, a group of fans torched an improvised coffin lid emblazoned with a crucifix and a photo of Mbappe. During an open-top bus procession across the capital, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez also carried a stuffed baby with Mbappe’s likeness. Both images became popular on social media.
France’s football federation and an anti-racism organisation will file legal charges against individuals who threw racial remarks at Mbappe and his teammates on social media after the World Cup final loss on penalties.
When asked for his reaction to the attacks from Argentina on social media, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Sud Radio that the incidents were “undignified” and openly questioned if FIFA should investigate.
“What are FIFA’s actions? Sport is all about fair play,” stated Le Maire. “It demonstrates respect for others. It demonstrates respect for the deceased.”
The Embassy of Argentina in Paris did not reply quickly to a request for comment.
Mbappe, who turned 24 on the day that millions of Argentines flocked to the streets of the city to honor team captain Lionel Messi, led a courageous French comeback by scoring two goals in 90 seconds to force extra time.
The bulk of the France squad is comprised of players of African ancestry, who have endured torrents of racist abuse on social media from a small percentage of fans.
SOS Racisme, an anti-racism organization, has submitted screenshots of over a hundred abusive comments in a criminal complaint against the individuals responsible for the statements.
The French Football Federation has taken a similar approach.
“It is the statement of a far-right mindset that these individuals should not be considered French,” said Hermann Ebongue, general secretary of SOS Racism.
He claimed that Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni, the two players who missed their penalties, got the greatest vitriol, and that several of the players had disabled the comments on their social media accounts.
The maximum punishment for internet racism is one year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($47,835.50).
SOS Racisme had already requested that FIFA take action against Argentine supporters who sung a racist song against Mbappe and the France squad before to the tournament’s commencement, and is now analyzing photographs emanating from Argentina for evidence of racism.