For Lilian Thuram, the World Cup has never been enough. Even before ending a playing career in which he won trophies at Monaco, Parma, Juventus and Barcelona as well as the highest honours with France, for whom he holds the record for number of appearances (142), he has been trying to contribute to profound social change.
The foundation he set up in 2008 aims to educate people out of racism. Since hanging up his boots that year he has also, among many other things, campaigned against sexism and homophobia, advised the French government on social integration, served as a Unicef ambassador and, for his efforts to counter discrimination, been awarded honorary degrees by the universities of Stirling and Stockholm. He has written several books. The English version of his latest one, entitled White Thinking: Behind the Mask of Racial Identity, is published on Friday. In it he calls for “race suicide”. He aims to liberate people from “identity prisons”.
He knows these are jolting terms. Thuram believes it is important to prod people, particularly white people, into thinking more deeply about societal structures and race.
“Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a very good book a few years ago called Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race,” says Thuram. “My book says the opposite: ‘If we are to…