Lille (France): People occupying high offices in French football are firm believer of ‘Black, Blanc, Beur’, a phrase often used to celebrate the ethnically-diverse national team’s 1998 World Cup triumph and the one last summer. Black is black, Blanc means white and Beur Arabic, implying that the players stay united on the field, irrespective of their origins and religions. People in high places believe that the French society is as accepting as its national team, ignoring the right-wing voices’ sporadic outbursts against the country’s immigration policies. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhFootball took them from the streets of Paris’ banlieues (suburbs) to the stadiums of Russia and when the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba flew back with the glittering World Cup trophy in their hands, it was hailed as the triumph of France’s immigrants. “Immigration is not an issue, immigration is a chance, and we have big players from Africa. It is a chance for France to develop football. Mbappe is French. France is known for its acceptance, accepting people from all over, including Africa. It’s France’s strength,” said Didier Quillot, CEO of Ligue de Football Professional (LFP), which runs the country’s major leagues. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterWhile its national team is looked at as a symbol of its multiculturalism, the country is often divided over the issue of refugees. France’s last major triumph was attributed to the efforts of a diverse, multicultural group of players. In the 23-member World Cup squad, 17 were immigrants or the children of immigrants. It comprised players of African and Arab descent, reviving memories of the 1998 World Cup triumph. Headlines such as ‘Triumph of Africa’ and ‘The last African team’, after the team’s win in Russia, left Paris Saint-Germain’s communications director, Jean-Martial Ribes, surprised. “The French people don’t think that they are African or Arabic. For us they are all French. France is known for its diversity, something like the USA. We were a little bit surprised to see the comments in some of the media. “Perhaps that’s what makes France a better place. People from every origin are welcome here and accepted. Our focus was on the triumph,” Ribes said.Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who is presently a brand ambassador of Coupe de la Ligue, said there is no place for racism and exclusion in football “I feel people are focusing on France but this (immigration) is a general problem in all society right now. People speak about discrimination and all but this has no place in football. Football is a place where we try to include everyone. Football has the power to unite more than anything else,” Drogba said. The former Ivory Coast striker added, “When you look very closely at the teams, the players, the stars you will not see discrimination. Most of the time it’s the people coming to the game from outside who bring that. People from outside, politicians do that. But inside it’s different.” Though the players of African or Arab origin in France have often been questioned over their allegiance to the flag.