Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro declared on Tuesday that the continent of Africa was the real winner of the FIFA World Cup after France won the competition with a team comprising many players of African heritage.
“The French team seems like the African team, in reality, Africa won, the African immigrants who arrived in France,” Maduro said at a police commemoration event. “How much have they despised Africa, and in the football World Cup France won the trophy thanks to African players or the sons of Africans.”
Despite his own history of anti-semitism, Maduro also used France’s success to rally against supposed racism against migrants entering Europe.
“That’s enough racism in Europe against Africans, enough discrimination against migrants,” he said. “Hopefully France and Europe will appreciate that us, southerners, Africans, Latin Americans, are worthy and powerful.”
His comments come after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in Sunday’s final, with 16 players out of the 23-man squad of African heritage, including Sunday goalscorers Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé. Other players essential to the team’s success, such as defenders Blaise Matuidi, Raphael Varane, and Samuel Umtiti and midfielder N’Golo Kante’s are also all of African or Caribbean descent.
Maduro praised the French team on playing “beautiful” football and congratulated Russian leader Vladimir Putin for putting on “the best World Cup in the history of football.”
Relations between Venezuela and France have deteriorated since the rise of Emmanuel Macron to the French presidency. Macron has condemned Maduro’s “dictatorship,” describing him as “trying to survive at the cost of an unprecedented humanitarian distress.” Maduro has blasted Macron as a “wimp” and “hitman” after he met with members of Venezuela’s anti-opposition to discuss additional sanctions against his socialist regime.
“I don’t care what Macron tells me: Macron is a wimp of (U.S. President Donald) Trump’s policies against Venezuela,” Maduro said in April. “He is destroying France; Macron was placed in the presidency to act like a hitman for the financial oligarchy to destroy the social rights of the people of France.”
It is also not the first time that Maduro has accused other countries of systematic racism. In March, he declared that the Trump administration’s “racist and xenophobic” policies were “similar to those of Hitler and the fascists,” and warned of a desired racial supremacy by the white European peoples.
“I warn the whole world about the emergence of this dangerous segregationist, racist and xenophobic political current that threatens to attack the peoples of the world, to divide humanity more, and to create more wars around the world,” Maduro said.
“It’s a band of extremists who are taking over power in the most important countries of the so-called developed world … which, like Hitler, creates the supremacy of the white European race over the rest of the peoples of the world,” he continued. “It’s worrying.”