France national football team
|Nickname(s)||Les Bleus (The Blues)
Les Tricolores (The Tri-colors)
de Football (FFF)
|Head coach||Didier Deschamps|
|Asst coach||Guy Stéphan|
|Most caps||Lilian Thuram (142)|
|Top scorer||Thierry Henry (51)|
|Home stadium||Stade de France|
|Highest FIFA ranking||1 (May 2001 – May 2002)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||27 (September 2010)|
|Highest Elo ranking||1 (most recently July 2007)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||44 (May 1928
| Belgium 3–3 France
(Brussels, Belgium; 1 May 1904)
| France 10–0 Azerbaijan
(Auxerre, France; 6 September 1995)
| Denmark 17–1 France
(London, England; 22 October 1908)
|Appearances||14 (First in 1930)|
|Best result||Winners, 1998|
|Appearances||8 (First in 1960)|
|Best result||Winners, 1984 and 2000|
|Appearances||2 (First in 2001)|
|Best result||Winners, 2001 and 2003|
The France national football team (French: Équipe de France) represents France in international football. It is fielded by the French Football Federation (French: Fédération Française de Football), the governing body of football in France, and competes as a member of UEFA, which encompasses the countries of Europe. The national team's traditional colours are blue, white and red, the colors of the national flag of France, known as the drapeau tricolore, and the coq gaulois is the symbol of the team. France is colloquially known as Les Bleus (The Blues), which is the name associated with all of the country's sporting national teams, due to the blue shirts each team incorporates.
France played its first official match in 1904, and today primarily plays its home matches at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris. The national team has won one FIFA World Cup title, two UEFA European Football Championships, an Olympic tournament, and two FIFA Confederations Cups. Following France's 2001 Confederations Cup victory, they became, along with Argentina, the only national teams to win the three most important men's titles organized by FIFA. France has a strong rivalry with neighbours Italy, and has historically also had important rivalries with Belgium, Brazil, England, and Germany.
The national team has experienced much of its success during three major "golden generations": in the 1950s, 1980s, and 1990s respectively, which resulted in numerous major honours. France was one of the four European teams that participated in the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and, although having been eliminated in the qualification stage six times, is one of only three teams that have entered every World Cup cycle. In 1958, the team, led by Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine, finished in third place at the FIFA World Cup. In 1984, France, led by Ballon d'Or winner Michel Platini, won UEFA Euro 1984. Under the leadership of Didier Deschamps and three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, France became one of eight national teams to win the FIFA World Cup in 1998 when it hosted the tournament. Two years later, the team triumphed again in UEFA Euro 2000 and became the top team in the FIFA World Rankings for the first time. France has since added a pair of Confederations Cup titles, in 2001 and 2003, as well as an appearance in the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which it lost 5–3 on penalties to Italy.
Following the team's disastrous 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign, a major reconstruction within the federation resulted in the resignation of president Jean-Pierre Escalettes and the appointment of former international Laurent Blanc as manager, followed by Didier Deschamps in 2012. After dropping to 27th in the FIFA World Rankings in September 2010, its lowest ranking ever, France is currently ranked 17th.
The France national football team was created in 1904 around the time of FIFA's foundation on 21 May 1904 and contested its first official international match on 1 May 1904 against Belgium, in Brussels, which ended in a 3–3 draw. The following year, on 12 February 1905, France contested their first ever home match against Switzerland. The match was played at the Parc des Princes in front of 500 supporters. France won the match 1–0 with the only goal coming from Gaston Cyprès. Due to disagreements between FIFA and the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA), the country's sports union, France struggled to establish an identity. On 9 May 1908, the French Interfederal Committee (CFI), a rival organization to the USFSA, ruled that FIFA would now be responsible for the club's appearances in forthcoming Olympics Games and not the USFSA. In 1919, the CFI transformed themselves into the French Football Federation. In 1921, the USFSA finally merged with the French Football Federation.
In July 1930, France appeared in the inaugural FIFA World Cup, held in Uruguay. In their first-ever World Cup match, France defeated Mexico 4–1 at the Estadio Pocitos in Montevideo. Lucien Laurent became notable in the match as he scored not only France's first World Cup goal, but the first goal in World Cup history. France later lost 1–0 to fellow group stage opponents Argentina and Chile resulting in the team bowing out in the group stage. The following year saw the first selection of a black player to the national team. Raoul Diagne, who was of Senegalese descent, earned his first cap on 15 February in a 2–1 defeat to Czechoslovakia. Diagne later played with the team at the 1938 FIFA World Cup, alongside Larbi Benbarek, who was one of the first players of North African origin to play for the national team. At the 1934 FIFA World Cup, France suffered elimination in the opening round, losing 3–2 to Austria. On the team's return to Paris, they were greeted as heroes by a crowd of over 4,000 supporters. France hosted the 1938 FIFA World Cup and reached the quarter-finals losing 3–1 to the defending champions Italy.
The 1950s saw France handed its first Golden Generation composed of players such as Just Fontaine, Raymond Kopa, Jean Vincent, Robert Jonquet, Maryan Wisnieski, Thadée Cisowski, and Armand Penverne. At the 1958 FIFA World Cup, France reached the semi-finals losing to Brazil. In the third place match, France defeated West Germany 6–2 with Fontaine recording four goals, which brought his goal tally in the competition to 13, a World Cup record. The record still stands today. France hosted the inaugural UEFA European Football Championship in 1960 and, for the second straight international tournament, reached the semi-finals. In the round, France faced Yugoslavia and were shocked 5–4 despite being up 4–2 heading into the 75th minute. In the third-place match, France were defeated 2–0 by the Czechoslovakians.
The 1960s and 70s saw France decline significantly playing under several different managers and failing to qualify for numerous international tournaments. On 25 April 1964, Henri Guérin was officially installed as the team's first manager. Under Guérin, France failed to qualify for the 1962 FIFA World Cup and the 1964 European Nations' Cup. The team did return to major international play following qualification for the 1966 FIFA World Cup. The team lost in the group stage portion of the tournament. Guérin was fired following the World Cup. He was replaced by José Arribas and Jean Snella, who worked as caretaker managers in dual roles. The two only lasted four matches and were replaced by former international Just Fontaine, who only lasted two. Louis Dugauguez succeeded Fontaine and, following his early struggles in qualification for the 1970 FIFA World Cup, was fired and replaced by Georges Boulogne, who could not get the team to the competition. Boulogne was later fired following his failure to qualify for the 1974 FIFA World Cup and was replaced by the Romanian Stefan Kovacs, who became the only international manager to ever manage the national team. Kovács also turned out to be a disappointment failing to qualify for the 1974 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 1976. After two years in charge, he was sacked and replaced with Michel Hidalgo.
Under Hidalgo, France flourished, mainly due to the accolades of great players like defenders Marius Trésor and Maxime Bossis, striker Dominique Rocheteau and of course midfielder Michel Platini, who, alongside Jean Tigana, Alain Giresse, and Luis Fernández formed the "carré magique" ("Magic Square"), which would haunt opposing defenses beginning at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, where France reached the semi-finals losing on penalties to rivals West Germany. The semi-final match-up is considered one of the greatest matches in World Cup history and was marred with controversy. France earned their first major international honor two years later, winning UEFA Euro 1984, which they hosted. Under the leadership of Platini, who scored a tournament-high nine goals, France defeated Spain 2–0 in the final. Platini and Bruno Bellone scored the goals. Following the Euro triumph, Hidalgo departed the team and was replaced by former international Henri Michel. France later completed the hat-trick when they won gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics football tournament and, a year later, defeated Uruguay 2–0 to win the Artemio Franchi Trophy, an early precursor to the FIFA Confederations Cup. Dominique Rocheteau and José Touré scored the goals. In a span of a year, France were holders of three of the four major international trophies. At the 1986 FIFA World Cup, France were favorites to win the competition, and, for the second consecutive World Cup, reached the semi-finals where they faced West Germany. Again, however, they lost. A 4–2 victory over Belgium gave France third place.
In 1988, the French Football Federation opened the Clairefontaine National Football Institute. Its opening ceremony was attended by then-President of France, François Mitterrand. Five months after Clairefontaine's opening, manager Henri Michel was fired and was replaced by Michel Platini, who failed to get the team to the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Platini did lead the team to UEFA Euro 1992 and, despite going on a 19-match unbeaten streak prior to the competition, suffered elimination in the group stage. A week after the completion of the tournament, Platini stepped down as manager and was replaced by his assistant Gérard Houllier. Under Houllier, France and its supporters experienced a heartbreaking meltdown after having qualification to the 1994 FIFA World Cup all but secured with two matches to go, which were against last place Israel and Bulgaria. In the match against Israel, France were upset 3–2 and, in the Bulgaria match, suffered an astronomical 2–1 defeat. The subsequent blame and public outcry to the firing of Houllier and departure of several players from the national team fold. His assistant Aimé Jacquet was given his post.
Under Jacquet, the national team experienced its triumphant years. The squad composed of veterans that failed to reach the 1994 FIFA World Cup were joined by influential youngsters. The team started off well reaching the semi-finals of UEFA Euro 1996 where they lost 6–5 on penalties to the Czech Republic. In the team's next major tournament at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Jacquet led France to glory defeating Brazil 3–0 in the final at the Stade de France. Jacquet stepped down after the country's World Cup triumph and was succeeded by assistant Roger Lemerre who guided them through UEFA Euro 2000. Led by FIFA World Player of the Year Zidane, France defeated Italy 2–1 in the final. Trezeguet scored the golden goal in extra time. The victory gave the team the distinction of being the first national team to hold both the World Cup and Euro titles since West Germany did so in 1974, and it was also the first time that a reigning World Cup winner went on to capture the Euro. Following the result, France were inserted to the number one spot in the FIFA World Rankings.
France failed to maintain that pace in subsequent tournaments. Although, the team won the Confederations Cup in 2001, France suffered a stunning goalless first round elimination at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. One of the greatest shocks in World Cup history saw France condemned to a 1–0 defeat to debutantes Senegal in the opening game of the tournament. After France finished bottom of the group, Lemerre was dismissed and was replaced by Jacques Santini. A full strength team started out strongly in UEFA Euro 2004, but they were upset in the quarter-finals by the eventual winners Greece. Santini resigned as coach and Raymond Domenech was picked as his replacement. France struggled in the early qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. This prompted Domenech to persuade several past members out of international retirement to help the national team qualify, which they accomplished following a convincing 4–0 win over Cyprus on the final day of qualifying. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, France finished undefeated in the group stage portion and advanced all the way to the final defeating the likes of Spain, Brazil, and Portugal along the way. France took on Italy in the final and despite controversial disruptions in extra time, France failed to get on the score-sheet and Italy won 5–3 on penalties to be crowned champions of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
France started its qualifying round for UEFA Euro 2008 strong and qualified for the tournament, despite two inevitable defeats to Scotland. France bowed out during the group stage portion of the tournament after having been placed in the group of death (which included Netherlands and Italy). Just like the team's previous World Cup qualifying campaign, the 2010 campaign got off to a disappointing start with France suffering disastrous losses and earning uninspired victories. France eventually finished second in the group and earned a spot in the UEFA play-offs against the Republic of Ireland for a place in South Africa. In the first leg, France defeated the Irish 1–0 and in the second leg procured a 1–1 draw, via controversial circumstances, to qualify for the World Cup.
In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, France continued to perform under expectations and were eliminated in the group stage. Midway through the competition, striker Nicolas Anelka was dismissed from the national team after reportedly having a dispute, in which obscenities were passed, with team manager Raymond Domenech during half-time of the team's loss to Mexico. The resulting disagreement over Anelka's explusion between the players, the coaching staff, and federation officials resulted in the team boycotting training. The negative publicity the national team received during the competition led to further repercussions back in France. The day after the team's elimination, it was reported by numerous media outlets that the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy would meet with team captain Thierry Henry to discuss the issues associated with the team's meltdown at the World Cup. The meeting was requested by Henry. Following the completion of the competition, federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes resigned from his position. Domenech was also let go and former international Laurent Blanc was inserted as his replacement. On 23 July 2010, on the request of Blanc, the federation suspended all 23 players in the World Cup squad for the team's friendly match against Norway after the World Cup. On 6 August, five players who were deemed to have played a major role in the 2010 FIFA World Cup training boycott were disciplined for their roles.
Home stadium 
During France's early years, the team's national stadium alternated between the Parc des Princes in Paris and the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir in Colombes. France also hosted matches at the Stade Pershing, Stade de Paris, and the Stade Buffalo, but to a minimal degree. As the years moved forward, France began hosting matches outside the city of Paris at such venues as the Stade Marcel Saupin in Nantes, the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, the Stade de Gerland in Lyon, and the Stade de la Meinau in Strasbourg.
Following the renovation of the Parc des Princes in 1972, which gave the stadium the largest capacity in Paris, France moved into the venue permanently. The team still hosted friendly matches and minor FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Football Championship qualification matches at other venues.
In 1998, the Stade de France was inaugurated as France's national stadium ahead of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Located in Saint-Denis, a Parisian suburb, the stadium has an all-seater capacity of 81,338. France's first match at the stadium was played on 28 January 1998 against Spain. France won the match 1–0, with Zinedine Zidane scoring the lone goal. Since that match, France has used the stadium for almost every major home game.
Prior to matches, home or away, the national team trains at the Clairefontaine academy in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines. Clairefontaine is the national association football centre and is among twelve élite academies throughout the country. The center was inaugurated in 1976 by former federation president Fernand Sastre and opened in 1988. The center drew media spotlight following its usage as a base camp by the team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Team image 
Media coverage 
The national team currently has a broadcasting agreement with TF1 Group, who control the country's main national TV channel, TF1. The current agreement was set to expire following the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On 18 December 2009, the Federal Council of the French Football Federation agreed to extend its exclusive broadcasting agreement with the channel. The new deal grants the channel exclusive broadcast rights for the matches of national team, which include friendlies and international games for the next four seasons beginning in August 2010 and ending in June 2014. TF1 will also have extended rights, notably on the Internet, and may also broadcast images of the national team in its weekly program, Téléfoot. The federation will receive €45 million a season, a €10 million decrease from the €55 million they received from the previous agreement reached in 2006.
The France national team utilizes a three colour system, composed of colors blue, white and red. The team's three colors originate from the national flag of France, known as the drapeau tricoleur. France have brandished the colors since their first official international match against Belgium in 1904. Since the team's inception, France normally wear blue shirts, white shorts, and red socks at home, while, when on the road, the team utilizes an all-white combination or wear red shirts, blue shorts, and blue socks with the former being the most current. Between the years 1909–1914, France wore a white shirt with blue stripes, white shorts, and red socks. In a 1978 World Cup match against Hungary in Mar del Plata, both teams arrived at Estadio José María Minella with white kits, so France played in green-and-white striped shirts borrowed from Club Atlético Kimberley.
Beginning in 1972, France reached an agreement with German sports apparel manufacturer Adidas to be the team's kit provider. Over the next 38 years, the two would maintain a healthy relationship with France winning UEFA Euro 1984, the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and UEFA Euro 2000 while wearing the brand's famous tricolour three stripes. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, France wore an all-white change strip in all four of its knockout matches, including the final. On 22 February 2008, the French Football Federation announced that they were ending their partnership with Adidas and signing with the American manufacturer Nike, effective 1 January 2011. The unprecedented deal is valued at €320 million over seven years (2011–2018) making France's blue shirt the most expensive ever in the history of football. The first France kit worn in a major tournament produced by Nike was the UEFA Euro 2012 strip, which was all dark blue and used gold as an accent colour. In February 2013, Nike revealed an all baby blue change strip.
Kit history 
1978 World Cup