France World Cup reputation as chaos or contender clear in 2010s

This story is part of our series looking back on the 2010 World Cup and its biggest moments and themes with a decade’s worth of perspective. For more, read about the lasting legacy of the competition in South Africa and the long-tail impact of Frank Lampard’s ghost goal vs. Germany.

For the second straight World Cup, Zinedine Zidane was being asked to explain bad French behavior. Except this time, the meltdown wasn’t his. This time, he was as bewildered as everybody else.

The setting was Sandton, an upscale suburb north of downtown Johannesburg. The crowd crammed unsafely (the day ended with a near stampede) into a room at the local convention center had been invited to hear Zidane and former Bafana Bafana defender Lucas Radebe discuss their countries’ group-stage meeting the following day, along with an Adidas charity initiative.

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