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Ex-France footballer Karembeu says two of his relatives killed in New Caledonia

Karembeu, who is Kanak, grew up on the island of Lifou in New Caledonia.

Racial and Gender Equity in European Football Conference – Thursday February 1st – City Ground

Former footballer Christian Karembeu, a 1998 World Cup winner with France, says two of his relatives have been killed during the unrest in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia that has left seven people dead.

Speaking during an interview with Europe 1 radio on Monday, the former Real Madrid midfielder said his two relatives were shot in the head by snipers.

“I’ve lost family members, that’s why I’ve kept quiet,” Karembeu said. “Because I’m in mourning.”

Asked if these were assassinations, Karembeu replied: “I didn’t want to, because the word is strong, but … it’s true that, yes, it’s an assassination and we hope that there will be inquiries and investigations into these murders.”

French president Emmanuel Macron decided on Monday to lift the state of emergency that was imposed earlier this month.

Vata bay Noumea New Caledonia
New Caledonia has been rocked by violence sparked by voting changes (Alamy/PA)

Deadly violence erupted in the French Pacific territory after protests kicked off against the French government’s attempts to amend the constitution and change voting lists in New Caledonia.

Opponents fear the measure will benefit pro-France politicians in New Caledonia, where pro-independence Indigenous Kanaks have long pushed to be free of France, amid sharp economic disparities.

Karembeu, who is Kanak, grew up on the island of Lifou in New Caledonia.

After moving to France as a teenager, he went on to win two Champions League titles with Madrid as a midfielder. He started for France in the 1998 World Cup final and was also part of the team that won the 2000 European Championship.

New Caledonia became French in 1853 under Emperor Napoleon III, Napoleon’s nephew and heir. It became an overseas territory after the Second World War, with French citizenship granted to all Kanaks in 1957.

Karembeu’s great-grandparents were shipped to Paris in 1931 from the French Pacific territory and exhibited as “cannibals”.

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