Why ‘I Will Survive’ is the French Anthem of the World Cup
Gloria Gaynor’s infamous ballad is being belted-out on streets across France and bars around the world today as the Gallic nation celebrates their World Cup win. You may have recognized the melody from the song blasting as “I Will Survive”, but why have the French adopted this 70’s classic as their football war cry??
The song was first claimed by France as the team’s hymn in 1998 when the then Captain, now coach, Didier Deschamps led the country to victory in the tournament, with this year marking the team’s ceremonious 20-year anniversary of the win. The victory took place at the newly inaugurated Stade de France and saw Zizou’s (Zinedine Zidane) image projected on the walls of the Arc de Triomphe as the country’s newly minted hero for his two winning World Cup goals.
The story goes that Vincent Candela – a defender on the 1998 French Squad – became obsessed with a remix of the classic by Hermes House Band. Despite his initial attempts to encourage the team to fall in love with the tune, it was a during training exercises when Alain Boghossian was struggling in a very demanding activity of ‘piggy in the middle’ that the chant began to stick. The ‘La la la la la’ of the remix quickly became an integral on-field pep chant as well as post-match celebratory anthem.
Playing ‘I Will Survive’ turned into one of the team’s many pre-match rituals, with other superstitious acts including defender Laurent Blanc kissing the head of goalie Fabien Barthez, and always sitting in the same bus seats en-route to the match.
Following a rocky twenty-year period for French football, the success of the ‘Black-Black-Beur’ (Black-White-Arab) era appears to be upon us again, with the anthem representative of the country’s strength in diversity and symbolic of that formidable French attitude to survive in the face of adversity.
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