Since the 1980s, several Nord-Comtois internationals have taken part in a World Cup with France. New players can be found in the African options. Often trained in French training centers, these players wear the colors of other national teams. They benefited from a relaxation of the binationals rules in 2003. From now on, a young footballer selected for the French youth team can, for example, evolve into a foreign selection that is once major. Sometimes it is enough to have only one grandparent of foreign nationality to play for another country.
All the world’s selections are trying to strengthen their teams, including France. That’s why coach Raymond Domenech tried to lure Franco-Argentinian Gonzalo Higuain to the Blues without success. For other options, in particular Africans, the strategy consists in relying on the diaspora to integrate talents into the national team.
This was the strategy chosen by Algeria in the 2010 World Cup. Of the twenty-three “Greens” players, twenty were born in France. This tactic is paying off. Anthar Yahia, who grew up in Belfort, qualified the team for their first world competition since 1986. He scored a legendary goal against rival Egypt. For his arrival in South Africa, Anthar was accompanied by a young man from Colmar who lives in Belfort, Ryad Boudebouz. The latter, a Sochaux player, could not prevent Algeria from sinking. Four years later, Boudebouz is part of Brazil’s epic.
The Algerians fell to Germany in the round of 16. Almost thirty years before, West Germany and Algeria were in the same pool, along with Austria. Algeria then awaits victory by Germany or Austria, who are in contention, to qualify. The two German-speaking teams got a draw, tasteless. “The match of shame”, as it is commonly called, leads to changes in the organization of the World Cup. In 2014, the Greens have a chance to erase this defiance. Despite a perfect match, Algeria was dismissed with a substitute Boudebouz.
A Montbéliardais already joined the Moroccan selection in the nineties: Gharib Amzine. He then moved to FC Mulhouse, which planted in the second division. He was called from 1997 with the Atlas Lions. He participated in the 1998 World Cup. Morocco are in a tough group: Brazil, future finalist, Norway with many players playing in England, and Scotland. The Moroccans lost against the Brazilians of Cafu and Ronaldo. However, they managed to dominate the Scots and tie the Norwegians. Their elimination was only due to a whistle penalty at the end of the match between Brazil and Norway. Gharib Amzine participates in all matches as a midfielder. His participation will accelerate his career; he signed a few weeks after the competition in Strasbourg.
Players from outside the Urban Area have also been adopted by Nord-Comtois. This is the case of Omar Daf, former coach of Sochaux. The Senegalese landed in Belgium in 1995. His debut was the subject of a documentary released the same year: Omar Daf, an African footballer. We see a certain indifference there, the Belgian sports institution promised mountains and wonders, it will not happen. After two years of wandering, Daf arrived at FC Sochaux where he quickly became a starter. The rest is down to legend. His performances attracted the Senegalese national team who selected him for the 2002 World Cup.
Facing France, considered the best team in the world, the Senegalese achieved victory. A historic achievement, an embarrassment for some commentators. After the World Cup, Omar continued his career in the country of Montbéliard. Injured several times, he was not renewed by the Doubiste club. After a stint in Brest, he ended his career at his old club. He signed a professional retraining project. First assistant, he became the team’s head coach in 2018. He left his post in 2022. He was the privileged witness of the turmoil of the Sochaux team that would change ownership three times in seven years.
Thanks to Sochaux, many players participated in the World Cup. We should have mentioned the presence of “yellow and blue” Bernard Bosquier in 1966 with France. More recently, Adel Chedli in 2006 with Tunisia participated in a World Cup after seven years in Sochaux.