Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

author:Haoran Literary History
Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

On November 30, 2022, Beijing time, Group D of the Qatar World Cup will welcome France and Tunisia, which is also the first meeting between the two teams in the World Cup. If we look at the Tunisian squad for matches, there are many players in its squad who have French nationality. This situation is undoubtedly related to the history of Tunisia as a country, so what is the historical relationship between Tunisia and France?

Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

First, the French are coming

The Republic of Tunisia was founded in 1957, but this place has a long history from the point of view of the history of civilization. As a strategic location in North Africa, Tunisia witnessed the rise and fall of Carthage, the Vandal Kingdom, the ancient Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Arab Empire. In modern times, Tunisia was subordinate to the Ottoman Empire for a long time. In 1705, when a rebellion broke out in Tunisia, the Governor-General of Tunisia overthrew the Ottoman Empire's supreme governor in Tunisia and established the Hussein dynasty, but nominally subordinate to the Ottoman Empire. All in all. Tunisia enjoyed some autonomy under the Ottoman Empire and prospered through piracy and the development of industry and commerce.

Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

Remains of Romanesque architecture in Tunisia

Since the 19th century, Western countries led by Britain and France began a frenzy of establishing overseas colonies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and it was during this period that Tunisia gradually became a French colony. In 1830, France occupied Algeria and began to infiltrate Tunisia through economic, political, and military means. In April 1881, French troops invaded Tunisia from Algeria. In May of the same year, the French army captured the city of Tunis and forced the Tunisian ruler to sign the Treaty of Bardoux, and Tunisia became a French colony. French colonial rule had a great impact on Tunisia, the French carried out a series of modernization reforms to the city of Tunis, established a system of water, gas, electricity and public transportation, a large number of Europeans also settled here, the French achieved certain results in the construction of Tunisia.

Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

Tunisia under French rule

Although Tunisia was not affected in World War I, French colonial rule over Tunisia suffered a severe blow in World War II. France was occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II, thus losing control of Tunisia. From 1942 to 1943, Italy occupied all of Tunisia, which not only became an Italian colony, but also an important battlefield in North Africa in World War II. In 1943, the Allies launched Operation Torch to land in North Africa and drove the Axis powers out of Tunisia in the Battle of Tunis, which also declared the end of the North African theater of World War II, and the Axis forces were severely damaged, laying the foundation for the subsequent Allied landing in Sicily.

Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

Victory in the Battle of Tunisia

II. The Tunisian Miracle

After the end of World War II, Tunisia was retaken by France, and although the French colonial authorities carried out a series of reforms in Tunisia and suppressed the resistance of the Tunisian people, the wave of national liberation that rose after World War II was unstoppable, and Tunisia was no exception in the context of the independence of colonial and semi-colonial countries. On March 20, 1956, Tunisia declared its independence and established the Kingdom of Tunisia, France and Turkey signed the Franco-Turkish Joint Protocol, and France officially recognized Tunisia's independence. A year later, Tunisia proclaimed a republic and Habib Bourguiba became its first president.

Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

Habib Bourguiba

After independence, Tunisia underwent earth-shaking changes, the most obvious feature of which was Arabization, and the proportion of European population in Tunisia gradually decreased, which also alleviated Tunisia's internal contradictions. In addition to Arabization, Tunisia also underwent modernization after independence. Tunisia liberalized its economy from its first president, Bourguiba, and his successor, Ben Ali, continued this while further economic reforms to attract foreign investment. Tunisia's economic reforms have been fruitful, with Tunisia's GDP growing at an average annual rate of 5% in the 20 years since 1987, and per capita GDP rising from $1,200 in 1986 to $3,800 in 2008. According to the annual report of the World Economic Competitiveness Forum from 2009 to 2010, Tunisia ranked first among 133 African countries in terms of economic competitiveness and improvement of quality of life, ranking 40th in the world. Tunisia's economic development has therefore been hailed as the "Tunisian miracle".

Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

A cityscape of Tunisia

Third, where to go

The 2008 world financial crisis also had an impact on Tunisia, and although Tunisia's industrial and economic structure did not suffer significantly, its tourism industry was hit hard, which caused complaints from the bottom of the people who depend on the surrounding tourism industry for their livelihood. Poor people are like a bundle of dry firewood, and just one spark will ignite a raging fire. In 2011, a government official slapped a male vendor while enforcing the law and set himself on fire in front of a government building an hour after being humiliated, and the local government simply transferred the official. The government's understatement, combined with longstanding popular grievances and fanning the flames on local social media, sparked anti-government demonstrations. This event became known as the "Jasmine Revolution". The revolution ended with the president fleeing and Tunisia re-establishing a new government.

However, Tunisia's difficulties continue. In 2021, demonstrations broke out again in Tunisia due to the pandemic, unemployment, corruption and other factors. On 25 July, Tunisian President Said staged a coup d'état in which he removed the Prime Minister, closed Parliament and embarked on the path of personal dictatorship. The road ahead for Tunisia remains to be seen.

Focus on the World Cup: Tunisia vs France, why do many Tunisian players have French nationality?

Mass demonstrations in Tunisia

Wen Shijun said

It is true that Tunisia has made some gratifying achievements after independence, especially in the field of economic development, but the political and social turmoil in Tunisia in the past decade has also exposed the common problem of most newly independent Asian, African and Latin American countries after World War II, that is, imperfect political democratization. Once the country's economic development suffers a setback, many Asian, African and Latin American countries will fall into the vicious circle of political turmoil and dictatorship. Only by relying on their own efforts can the people of all countries truly shake off this vicious circle and embark on an independent, prosperous and powerful life.


Wang Feng: "Analysis of Tunisia's Economic Situation and Prospect Since the Drastic Change in the Middle East", Middle East Studies, No. 2, 2021.

Li Jingqiang: "Tunisian constitutional referendum, the president's "one-man show"? World Knowledge, No. 17, 2022.

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