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What the papers said 17th July 2018

rfi English, Jul 17

Despite the papers being dominated by World Cup victory celebrations, some dailies have acknowledged shadier aspects of the partying while others are curious as to how President Emmanuel Macron will resume dialogue with the country's unions and bosses.

Unsurprisingly the 2018 World Cup fever is the hottest topic on the front pages of most French dailies after the victorious team returned to a triumphant welcome from millions of fans in the capital.

Le Monde has gone into special edition mode looking at why this second World Cup win means France is now a great footballing nation and what this victory means for les Bleus’ coach Didier Deschamps, who was also one of the 1998 champions. It also writes that, for the first time in years, French people have brought out the tricolour to celebrate as opposed to mourn.

Macron, the other World Cup winner

“Merci” headlines Le Figaro on its front page. The conservative paper looks at how Macron has also benefited from this victory. It writes that, as much as the French team’s supporters acted as a 12th player, the French president was in a way a second coach. A slow build-up that led Macron to celebrate with the team as though he was one of them. “A good investment for the former banker,” Le Figaro judges.

Left-leaning Libération agrees that les Bleus have greatly contributed to Macron’s image. With the football stars themselves posting videos of their interactions with the French president on social media, the Elysée Palace’s communications team has been able to opt for a sober, laid-back approach.

The paper has dedicated many of its pages to the 10s of millions who took to the streets and the new found pride of the inhabitants of Bondy, a town on the outskirts of Paris which football star Kylian Mbappé comes from.

Vandalism and sexual assault tarnish World Cup celebrations

However, not all is hunky-dory when it comes to celebrating les Bleus' victory.

Despite the hundreds of thousands of police, gendarmes and firemen deployed for the occasion, there were violent incidents and socially unacceptable behaviour.

Some shops in Paris were vandalised and looted. Le Monde reports that a small number of people across France died whilst partying as a result of car accidents, diving into canals or freak accidents such as the case of a woman who was parading on a tractor but fell off the vehicle and was crushed by its wheels.

Over the weekend, which also saw Bastille Day on 14 July, 845 cars were destroyed and 508 people were arrested, writes Le Monde.

Le Figaro feature an article on the number of women who have taken to social media to denounce sexual assaults they suffered during the celebrations. Large crowds and a World Cup victory apparently led some men to think it was acceptable to grope women or try to force kisses upon them. The paper also reminds its readers that during the competition female journalists were also targeted by sexual predators whilst covering the event.

Social dialogue

Some papers are looking ahead to Macron's next move when it comes to interacting with unions and heads of businesses, whom he is meeting today.

He is hoping to calm tensions and create guidelines for the government, according to Les Echos, with one of the hot topics being unemployment insurance and unemployment benefit rules.

Libération writes that both the unions and employers feel they've been undermined by the Macron government. The meeting is expected to last two hours. A quicky if you compare it to Macron's predecessor François Hollande's two-day stints. Employment, job security, health and poverty are meant to be scrutinised by the government in September but it appears they will be touched upon today.

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