Credit: Alesi e Leonardi (Internaz), CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, via Flickr

Lilian Thuram

Author and former professional footballer,


The main activist against racism through his own foundation

Who is he and what does he do?

Thuram is the most capped player in the history of the France national team with 142 appearances between 1994 and 2008.

He began playing football professionally in his homeland with Monaco and played in the top flight in France, Italy and Spain for over 15 seasons, with notable stints in Serie A with both Parma and Juventus before finishing his career with Barcelona. With France, Thuram was a key player for the team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup; his side also won UEFA Euro 2000.

Lilian Thuram is a campaigner against racism via his conferences, exhibitions and publications. He is a magnificent and independent activist who created his own foundation to educate against racial discrimination.

His personal experience with discrimination and exclusion

During a lecture given in Peru, he told about his own personal experience upon arriving in France: When I first came to Paris, at the age of 9, I bumped into racism. There was a cartoon with a very stupid black cow and a very bright white one. Some of my friends at school named me after the black cow.”

In one of his books he exposes that “Italy is a racist and he experienced it in first-hand: „I arrived in Italy 1996 and left ten years later and saw many demonstrations of racism. And I saw and heard people making monkey noises whenever I touched the ball. What is unbelievable is that, 21 years on from that time, I still see and hear racism. It is deeply embedded in European society.”

In his first book, 8 Juillet 1998 (8th July 1998), he shows us the crude reality of the racism he even suffered at home: I asked my son if he wanted some dessert to finish lunch, and I offered him a banana. His answer was brutal; no Dad, I don’t eat bananas because I’m not a monkey.”

How he got rid of it

Lilian Thuram educates via his foundation all around the world, transmitting values and setting examples as heart-breaking as the one with his son.

He published his second book in 2010, Mes Étoiles Noires (My Black Stars), in which he evokes his black idols and explains the approach to them: “They have never told me about black stars.

Thuram thinks out loud in Mes Étoiles Noires (My Black Stars): “I ask the children I meet in schools how many races there are: four of them answered: the white one, the black one, the yellow one and the red one. Just this answer by itself is the base of racism. It is absolutely abhorrent that kids don’t know that there’s only one human species.”

His inspiration for you

“Why don´t leaders take action? Generally speaking, it’s because it will not change their lives and they do not suffer from it. The problem with racism is that, when you are not the victim, you really think it does not exist.

The issue is deeply embedded in European society, and over the last 20 years, the same people have been discriminated against: black, Jewish and homosexual people. These victims cannot change the mentality of racists.”


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