World Cup winner Lilian Thuram urged graduates to “put solidarity at the heart of our society” as he received an honorary degree.
The former France defender said he feared the rise of right-wing ideology across Europe and increased focus on competition would lead to people becoming isolated.
He was at the University of Stirling on Wednesday to be recognised for his contribution to football, as well as his commitment to tackling racism through education.
In 2008, at the end of his football career, the former defender – a Unicef ambassador – set up the Lilian Thuram Foundation, which educates against racism and promotes equality.
Speaking via a translator, he said: “I’m very proud of it, it’s an acknowledgement of the work we are doing at the foundation.
“I was very surprised when I received the invite because I didn’t know the work we are doing was used at the university, so I’m very proud indeed.”
He added: “What is very important is not to forget the importance of solidarity and to put solidarity at the heart of our society, because we are living in a society where competition is more and more prominent and if we continue like that we are going to end up being alone.
“The aim of our work is to tell everybody – especially children – things like racism (and) homophobia are social constructs and there’s nothing natural about feeling those things.
“It’s the same when you see the difference between men and women, it’s totally a construct of the society we are living in.”
Thuram played for Barcelona, Juventus, Monaco and Parma during a 27-year career.
He is his country’s most-capped player and won the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000.
The 47-year-old described the growth of right-wing ideology across Europe as worrying but said it was telling the “history of the Western world”.
He added: “We have always felt we are superior and maybe we should ask the question if we should share more the wealth in the world or do we think we are entitled to that?”
Thuram was at the university as students were presented with their degrees at summer graduation ceremonies.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?