Football and antisemitism in France: visibility and invisibility

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

This chapter will examine antisemitism in French football, primarily since the turn of the millennium. During this time, there have been several high-profile terrorist attacks that have led some French Jews to feel increasingly worried about their safety.

Firstly, this chapter will argue that France does not possess a major club that is seen as having a Jewish heritage or identity and become a focus for antisemitic abuse in the way has happened in England and the Netherlands. However, matches between French and Israeli clubs have at times seen French fans – including some associated with the far right – directing antisemitic abuse at their teams’ opponents.

The chapter will then explore how a key aspect of antisemitism in French football within the last decade has been several players’ use of the quenelle gesture which is associated with the comedian Dieudonné, who has been widely accused of antisemitism. Dieudonné has portrayed Jews and Israel as having profited from the slave trade and argued that Jews’ evocations of their suffering during the Holocaust has led to memories of slavery being neglected. This creates an image of Jews as a focus for the anger of the underprivileged in France, which is significant given Dieudonné’s following in run-down suburbs of French cities known as banlieues. Several of the footballers who have performed the quenelle are originally from such areas.

This chapter will conclude by focusing on allegations of antisemitism that have emerged within local football in France’s banlieues. It will analyse this phenomenon, as well as reactions to Jewish teams – such as Maccabi Paris – who compete at this level of football. This chapter will suggest that although antisemitism is often named in anti-discrimination campaigns within French sport, it is not always a major focus of such initiatives.


  • football, discrimination, antisemitism
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAntisemitism in Football: International Perspectives
EditorsEmma Poulton
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2025

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