ODM party leader Raila Odinga has joined in the banter about France being an African team, a joke that started four years ago when France won the Fifa World Cup.

Mr Odinga said he is excited about the ongoing Fifa World Cup, hinting that he intends to travel to Qatar to watch the semi-final and final matches.

Mr Odinga said he is hopeful good results from Africa’s five representatives Senegal, Tunisia, Ghana, Cameroon and Morocco, adding with a light touch that a win for France is also a considered an African win.

“France will also come because it is also an African team,” Mr Odinga said amidst laughter.

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It all started started with South African comedian Trevor Noah in 2018. In his popular The Daily Show, the comedian made a joke about the French national football team being an ‘African team’.

That was France beat Croatia 4-2 to the lift the World Cup for the second time in their history with a team made up of several players with African roots.

Though many of the players on the team have roots that can be traced back to different African countries, for instance young star Kylian Mbappé’s mother was born in Algeria, while his father was born in Cameroon. Blaise Matuidi’s parents were Angolan refugees who fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and then onto France, where he was born, the joke has set off full controversy.

“They have to say it’s the ‘French team,’ but look at those guys… Basically, France is Africans’ back-up team… Once Senegal and Nigeria got knocked out, that’s who we root for,” he quipped back then.

Noah’s joke elicited mixed reactions with the then French Ambassador to the United States of America, Gérard Araud, sending out a formal letter condemning the comments while noting that all but two of the team’s 23 players were born in France.

“France is indeed a cosmopolitan country, but every citizen is part of the French identity,” Araud wrote.

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