French press review 15 August 2012
Not many French newspapers today since it’s a bank holiday. But two of the most popular French papers are here, Aujourd’hui en France and the sports daily l’Equipe and they have sex and sport on their minds.
Aujourd’hui en France dedicates its first five pages to the Zahia affair.
“The Zahia affair catches up with two members of the national football team,” reads the front-page headline.
As you might remember, Bayern Munich winger Frank Ribéry and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema have been under investigation since 2010 in the so-called "Zahia affair" in which they are accused of paying Zahia Dehar, then 16, for sex in 2009 and 2008, respectively.
Contrary to all expectations, says the paper, a judge has decided that the footballers should face charges in court. Prosecutors requested in November that the case be closed, arguing that the footballers probably did not know Zahia was under age.
The daily features the reaction of the players’ lawyers. “Surprise” and “injustice” are the two words used by Ribéry’s lawyer. She says her client is “devastated” by the judge’s decision. Benzema’s lawyer told the paper that the news “angered his client since he knows that he did nothing wrong”. She believes her client is being punished “for being young and famous”.
The paper notes that the main protagonist in the affair, Zahia Dehar, will not appear before the judge.
The paper also looks at the impact of the affair on Benzema and Ribéry’s reputations in France and in the countries where they play. While their repuations have been tarnished in France, it is not the case abroad.
“Both players are superstars who interest the public more by their sporting success than by their private lives,” it says.
The lawyers will appeal against the judge's decision to go to trial. As for Dehar, thanks to (or despite) the affair, the young ex-prostitute has become a successful lingerie designer, whose “patron in business is none other than Karl Lagerfeld.
The paper also features the happy couple who won the 190-million-euro jackpot last week. They are British, married with two children, they live in Haverhill and until last week they had difficulties in making ends meet.
But now, says the daily, they've won “the price of an Airbus plane”. The paper says the couple will share some of their new-found wealth with relatives who have helped them out in difficult moments of their life.
The article gives a touching account of how the couple and their children celebrated their win. They ordered a takeaway pizza. Their six-year old daughter asked if they now had enough money to eat pizza for dinner, the paper reports.
Since the father, Adrian, owns a second hand CD shop, he will not only be able to make it bigger, but also will be able to “buy himself all the CDs he wants”, concludes the article.
Sports daily L’Equipe leads with the preview of the France-Uruguay friendly tonight. What’s special about it? It is the first game for Didier Deschamps, the ex-captain of the national team and its newly appointed coach.
“With 103 caps, Deschamps will experience tonight his first match on the bench of the national team,” L'Equipe says.
An old teammate of Deschamps, Bixente Lizarazu, writes that his former teammate will have to “be inspired by the painful experience of the last two matches of Laurent Blanc”, his predecessor. The player-turned-commentator says that merely having been a world champion is not enough to win the respect of the team.
“Didier Deschamps knows that he will have to be extremely demanding on his players’ mentality and team spirit,” he says.