International tournament success in sports famously breeds joy, babies, and joyfully birthed babies named after the sporting heroes who achieved said success. It’s no surprise, then, that one French couple wanted to name their newborn son after two stars from France’s World Cup victory this summer. Unfortunately, France, with its oddly fascist naming laws, has stepped in to prevent the couple’s admittedly colorful World Cup-inspired name from being appended to the child.
Earlier this month, in a town called Brive, a French couple gave birth to a baby boy. The parents decided to name their son “Griezmann Mbappé,” in honor of two of France’s most important figures in in their latest World Cup title, forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé. A weird name, to be sure, but not an insane one by any means, and one that in a truly freedom-loving country would be perfectly within the parents’ rights to christen their child with. Not in France, though.
As French paper La Montagne reports, the local authorities who oversee the names of newborns objected to little Grizi-Bap’s name, and have officially lodged a complaint in court to have the baby renamed. France law affords the state this kind intrusive and over-the-top name scrutiny in certain circumstances, as laid out by La Montagne:
In France, parents have the freedom to choose the first name of their child. Until 1993, according to Article 57 of the Civil Code, the registrar could at leisure accept or refuse the chosen name.
However, the parents’ freedom knows some limits, also fixed by the Civil Code. The first name may be refused at the time of the declaration of birth if: it harms the interest of the child (first name sounds ridiculous, pejorative or coarse, alone or associated with other first names or surname); it is too complex (composed of more than three first names for example); it refers to a personality discredited by history; it contains foreign characters (foreign names are accepted if it is possible to transcribe them in Latin alphabet).
It is now up to a family court judge to determine whether or not in his or her opinion “Griezmann Mbappé” is too ridiculous a name to give a baby. If so, the parents will be called upon to come up with a different name. If the couple can’t able to come up with a satisfactory substitute, the court itself will select a new name for the baby. But simply by flagging this name in the first place and putting the determination of whether it’s acceptable to name a baby after two French soccer heroes, the country has failed to live up to its motto: Liberté, égalité, Griezmann-Mbappé.