[QODLink]
Football Rebels

Mekhloufi and the FLN team

The famous football player chose to abandon the French team to play for Algerian independence.

Last updated: 09 Jul 2014 12:57
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
As the global sporting world faces one corruption scandal after another, former Manchester United star Eric Cantona presents the stories of five football heroes whose social conscience led them to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights. Football Rebels looks at a side of football that does not always make the headlines.

As a child, Rachid Mekhloufi witnessed the French authorities carry out the Setif massacre in his home country of Algeria, which left thousands of people dead.

"Risking all to believe in what is just ... Giving up glory to fight for a cause ... Forgetting a career to join a revolution ... In 1958, that's what Rachid Mekhloufi did .... Taking the risk to avoid regret. Becoming the symbol of a struggle .... And playing, playing, playing. Using football as a propaganda tool."

- Eric Cantona

It marks one of the darkest chapters in the history of Algeria and France and it defined Mekhloufi's sports career.

Mekhloufi played football for France's national team, but in 1958, the AS Saint Etienne striker stealthily left France to join the FLN football team and play for Algerian independence.

Leading Algerian players in the French league formed a national team for the 1958 World Cup – a team for the FLN, Algeria’s liberation front.

Risking all to do what he believed was right, Mekhloufi, along with nine other comrades, became a symbol of a political struggle and wore the colours of a country that was yet to exist: Algeria.

He says: "I was a bit like the spoilt child of football and of Saint-Etienne. But I saw and heard things. All Algerians, even the most spoilt, in Algeria or in France, had to think of Algeria. Algerians were never thought of as French ....

"The moment I left, the page was turned. For me personally the page was turned because I knew I could never play for France or for Saint-Etienne again .... What I got out of that FLN team couldn't have been bought with all the gold in the world."

 

Football Rebels : Mekhloufi and the FLN team can be seen from Tuesday, July 8 at the following times GMT:  Tuesday: 2230; Wednesday: 0930; Thursday: 0330; Friday: 1630; Saturday: 2230; Sunday: 0930; Monday: 0330; Tuesday: 1630.

488

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.
join our mailing list