Pogacar, Roglic, Doncic: Slovenia, the small country with great athletes

The French handball players have an appointment Monday, January 16 with the Slovenian selection, for their last match of the first round of the World Handball Championships in Sweden and Poland. A tough opponent for the Blues, who will try to get back on the podium of the best handball nations, as in 2017.

In addition to this bronze medal gleaned by Slovenian handball players in France six years ago, several athletes from this country of 2 million inhabitants have distinguished themselves in their discipline at the world level, such as Tadej Pogacar, 24 years old and already double winner of the Tour de France (2020 and 2021), as well as his friend Primoz Roglic, 33, triple winner of the Tour of Spain (2019, 2020 and 2021).

A true prodigy of international basketball, Luka Doncic, 23, has also been performing thunderously for three years in the NBA, the very high American league. “Luka Magic” has already taken his selection to the top of Europe in 2017… at the age of 18. Since then, he has been considered one of the best basketball players, and has an unprecedented aura in Slovenia.

The country, which has a few alpine peaks, finally has a large pool of winter sports athletes. Alpine skiers Ilka Stuhec and Tina Maze have two Olympic gold medals in Sochi in 2014 and two world titles.

Massification of sport in Yugoslavia

This Slovenian tradition is the vestige of communist politics in the former Yugoslavia, where sporting activities occupied an important place. As early as 1945, Marshal Tito’s regime launched the Yugoslav Physical Culture Council, which later became the Yugoslav Physical Culture Federation, with a “absolute priority placed on the massification of the practice” in the direction of “amateur sports, (of the) young and (of the) workers “, explains Loïc Trégourès, author of an article on “sport in Yugoslavia, anatomy of a political project” (1).

The communist regime launches five-year plans for the construction of infrastructures throughout the territory. Marshal Tito also glorifies the performance of Yugoslav athletes at the international level, lever of influence and distinction, while Yugoslavia broke with the USSR from 1948 and gradually joined the “non-aligned” camp. “In the days of Yugoslavia, an Olympic medalist had the right to a salary, an apartment or a car”, underlines a file produced by The Team.

A sports monitoring program

Despite the fall of the dictatorship, sport remains one of the main subjects of the Slovenian education system. School children are also subjected to annual sets of aptitude tests, administered by the government. This device, called SLOfit, was created in 1980 “to better support physical education teachers responsible for guiding the motor development of their students”, explains the program’s website.

From now on, all the data collected is also used to “promote physical activities adapted to all generations of citizens”. In turn, the government has unpublished data (physical development, motor capacity) on the sporting potential of young Slovenians. And can use it to find and support the most promising.

But this sporting idyll also comes with its share of controversy. In 2019, a cyclist, Kristjan Koren, and a manager, Borut Bozic, were arrested after a doping investigation. Their names had been found in the files of a German doctor, Mark Schmidt, suspected of being at the head of a vast doping network. Other top Slovenian riders, such as Tadej Valjavec and Janez Brajkovic, are also implicated in similar cases.



Olympics 2024: the major summer festivals will be maintained

The world of performing arts has been experiencing some cold sweats since the end of October and the announcement by Gérald Darmanin of the cancellation or postponement of the summer 2024 festivals. The cause invoked by the Minister of the Interior: the lack of availability of the police, which will be massively mobilized during the Olympic Games, scheduled from July 26 to August 11.

Since then, the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, has thrown her forces into battle. The result of its negotiations with the Ministry of the Interior and its consultations with the organizers of major festivals and union officials was published on Tuesday 13 December.

In its press release, the Ministry of Culture assures that solutions have already been found for most of these events in order to ensure that they are held during the summer of 2024”. This mainly concerns the most important festivals, which require reinforcements from law enforcement. The Festival d’Avignon, usually organized during the month of July, will thus have to start earlier » to adapt to the calendar, which plans to ban large events between July 18 and August 11.

Tuesday evening, in the columns of Parisianthe Minister ensured the maintenance of the major festivals, before admitting that the Lollapalooza, a pop-rock event organized in Paris, remains “a complicated case because it is in Île-de-France and is held during the Olympic events”.

” It was time ! »

If the press release from the ministry gives the organizing committees time to prepare, it also puts them in the face of new challenges. We have been working with all the players since this situation arose, confides the press service of Opus 64, which handles the communication of the Festival d’Avignon. First to ensure the security guarantee, then to solve the logistical and practical problems. We should get there, but the dates announced remain a working hypothesis. »

Moving the Festival d’Avignon to the end of June involves in particular a pileup with the school calendar, while several performances usually take place in the courtyard of certain establishments.

“If governments consulted us, we could work upstream of the problems rather than downstream, regrets Vincent Moisselin, director of the National Syndicate of artistic and cultural enterprises (Syndeac). There is a real problem of dialogue, of space for consultation and this affair of the festivals demonstrates it. »

He still expresses some relief: It was time !This press release tempers the remarks of the Ministry of the Interior, and we are delighted to see that the alliance of culture and sport will be built. » Delicate construction, whose first bases, just laid, remain fragile. “We will have to be very attentive to how the prefects will read and apply the circular”.



2022 World Cup: view of Argentina, France “great rival” for the final

After their victory against Morocco (2-0), the Blues will find Lionel Messi’s Albiceleste in the final of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Sunday, December 18. The 2018 world champions have been noticed by the Argentine press, identified as strong opponents for the dispute to come.

The Nationthe most read daily newspaper in the country, title on the ” challenge “ who awaits Argentina: “Take back the crown from France, defending champion. » « The selection led by Didier Deschamps is not afraid of anything, neither the whistles of thousands of Moroccans throughout the match, nor the successive losses of players like N’Golo Kanté, Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema, Kimpembe and Lucas Hernandez”. reports the daily.

Several heavyweights of the France team had indeed been declared forfeited a few weeks before the start of the competition. The newspaper further recalls that the two teams are vying for their third star, with Argentina having won the title in 1978 and 1986 and France in 1998 and 2018.

Another major daily in the country, the Clarinsalute “skill” of the France team, thanks to which the Blues once again managed to reach the final. Argentinian players, after a day off with the family, bring back the title in One, “will begin to prepare the team and the clash with the French giant”. France, “last hurdle” before the coronation in the columns of the regional newspaper The Gacetaand “great rival” for The VozWhere Los Andes.

Mbappé-Messi duel

Several press headlines highlight the duel that will be played on Sunday between Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi. For The Gacetaduring the confrontation “The World Cup will not only be at stake, but Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé will also compete to define which of the two will be the best player of the tournament”. Both forwards have scored five goals each since the start of the competition.

The regional daily Los Andes sees in the final the opportunity for Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé to argue “the title of MVP and top scorer of the tournament”. The sports daily OleMbappé jersey in One, title on the battle between the two players “for the cup and the crown”.



World Cup 2022: Morocco dreams of being a great football nation

Imagine something other than a victory? Unthinkable. After its draw against the Croatian world vice-champions (0-0) and especially its victory against Belgium semi-finalist of 2018 (2-0), Morocco obviously sees itself making short work of the “small” Canada, this Thursday 1er December, to win without firing a shot a qualification in the round of 16. And do even better than the elders who had jumped on the second round of the 1986 World Cup, but with only one success (against Portugal, 3-1) and two draws (0-0, against Poland then England).

Appetite comes with eating. “We want to exist like the great nations, to know how to pass this round”, summarizes Walid Regragui, the Moroccan coach. The native of Corbeil-Essonnes does not want to ignite, but he trusts his group enough to display “high goals”. And why not? “We know where we are goinghe let go after the bad trick inflicted on the Belgians. We have a very coherent team block, it’s difficult to move us, and everyone is working. Afterwards, with our quality players, we know that at any time we can do something big. »

A long-term policy

The journey of the Atlas Lions so far is no small reward, already, for a coach called to the rescue less than three months from the World Cup. By taking over from the Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, sacked for his bad relations with certain players, Walid Regragui was not starting from scratch. It was still necessary to pick up the pieces with the undesirables of yesterday, like the star winger of Chelsea Hakim Ziyech, and to resolder a group in emergency. A follower of diplomacy rather than the balance of power, the champion of Morocco and the African Champions League in 2022 (with the club Wydad Casablanca) obviously knew how to find the words.

A qualification would in any case validate for Morocco a long-term policy launched in 2014 by the new president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaâ. With the support of King Mohammed VI, tens of millions of euros have been invested in the construction of stadiums in major cities, but also hundreds of synthetic pitches in working-class neighborhoods. The organization of championships for the young categories and the reform of those of the elite have made it possible to structure competitions and clubs.

“Today, Morocco has become a locomotive for the development of football on the continentassures Yassine El Yattioui, doctoral student in political science at the University of Salamanca and specialist in Moroccan football. Its infrastructures also make it possible to accommodate numerous teams, particularly from sub-Saharan countries, for preparation courses. And Morocco is obviously a candidate for the organization of the 2025 African Cup of Nations, which has been withdrawn from Guinea. »

To be the first country in Africa

CAN 2025 to forget the failure (the fifth!) of Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup? Morocco did not relax its efforts after the awarding of the next World Cup to the Canada-United States-Mexico trio. To perpetuate its structures, the FRMF has just secured the services of Chris Van Puyvelde, who was national technical director of the Belgian Football Federation from 2015 to 2018.

Impressed in particular by the Mohammed-VI National Football Center inaugurated in 2019 (58 million euros of investment), the equivalent of the tricolor Clairefontaine in a more modern version, the Belgian technician set the bar very high on his arrival: “I know that Morocco wants to be the first country in Africa and I have seen now that it is possible. In Belgium, we dreamed of being first in the FIFA rankings with a country of 11 million inhabitants and we did it (from November 2018 to March 2022, editor’s note). Is there a reason not to make it here? »

The Atlas Lions only sharpen their teeth in Qatar. The objective is then to reach the last four of the CAN in January 2024. The means are there and will last. In October 2021, Fouzi Lekjaâ, already director of the budget at the Ministry of the Economy, entered the government as Minister Delegate for the Budget. A good place.


Women’s football also progresses

Morocco organized last July the fourteenth edition of the women’s CAN. The national team reached the final, narrowly failing against South Africa (1-2). But by finishing in the last four, the Lionesses above all qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, a first for a North African team and for an Arab nation. The Moroccan thrust can also be seen at club level. On November 13, the Sports Association of the Royal Armed Forces (AS Far) offered the second edition of the African Women’s Champions League, largely dominating (4-0) the South Africans of Mamelodi Sundowns.



World Cup 2022: ambitious and secretive, the Qatar team faces its biggest challenge

A victory to start? For the host team of Qatar, succeeding in the opening of its World Cup against Ecuador would be more than a performance: a real feat. Never has an Arab selection from the Asia zone managed to win its first match in a World Cup. For the better, the chronicle retains only two draws: in 1982 for Kuwait (1-1 against Czechoslovakia) and in 2006 for Saudi Arabia (2-2 against Tunisia).

With its modest 6,000 licensees, Qatar nevertheless intends to change the situation, and prove that its passion for football is not just a whim of emirs. “Football is really the flagship discipline of Qataris, assures Raphaël Le Magoariec, geopolitical scientist specializing in sports policies in the Gulf countries(1). The country clearly shows the desire to rise to the level of the best nations in the Arab world, as its hopefuls were able to do in the 1980s at a time when football business did not yet reign. »

The Aspire Academy, flagship program

In 1981, under the leadership of a Brazilian technician at the Under-20 World Cup, the Qatari selection had reached the final, admittedly lost against Germany (0-4), but after having eliminated Brazil in the quarter (3- 2) and England in half (2-1). The same generation distinguished itself in 1984 in the first round of the Los Angeles Games by snatching a draw (1-1) from France, soon to be Olympic champion. But then the moose got bogged down in the desert sands. The low pool does not ensure succession.

The emirate then counts on the recruitment at high prices of foreign technicians in charge of looking elsewhere for talents to naturalize to feed the national selection. This strategy was systematized with the opening of the Aspire Academy in 2005. It is a question of “aspiring” young African and South American recruits, especially, and training them in this institution which is the pride of the family. reigning. The program has had a few ups but mostly downs, including the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the last fires of a team ultimately having too many foreigners for the taste of the supporters.

The Aspire program has since focused on nurturing young local players who feed 75% of the current squad. At the wand, Catalan Felix Sanchez, former FC Barcelona training center, hired at Aspire in 2006 and national coach since 2017. He will grow his troops and now speaks of it as a ” family “. These young people went to harden one or two years in Europe, in second-tier clubs in which Qatar has invested: Eupen in Belgium, Linz in Austria and Leonesa in Spain.

A level still unclear

“They go there to rub shoulders with European methods, learn the culture of winning, but then come back to Qatar League clubs where they gain playing time rather than waxing the bench in more prestigious teams in Europe, explains Raphaël Le Magoariec. The players are also not keen to go and rub shoulders with European football, with its passions and excesses. They prefer to stay in the Qatari cocoon, and the emirate also intends to have them available and under control. »

The method is good. Qatar won the Asian title for the first time in February 2019 by beating Japan (3-1). In 2010, when the World Cup was awarded, he was in 113th place in the FIFA rankings and is now at 50th.

Still, it is difficult to get a real idea of ​​its current level. Against Portugal, Serbia or Ireland in 2021, Qatar hardly made the weight. He has certainly chained four victories in his last preparation matches, but against modest teams: Guatemala (2-0), Honduras (1-0), Panama (2-1) and Albania (1- 0).

“It’s all about motivation, concludes Raphaël Le Magoariec. These players fight mostly when the stakes are high. They are ready and should not be taken lightly. »



Are major sporting events compatible with environmental issues?

► “Stop the race for ever more disproportionate events”

Arnaud Gauffier, director of programs at WWF France

Like any human activity, sport has an impact on the environment, but the multiplication of sporting events combined with the race for scale maximizes the consequences. They cause mass air travel, to and between the sites where the events take place. They consume huge amounts of material and energy resources.

Will the pressure exerted on the environment lead us to eliminate major events and limit ourselves to local or national competitions? Coming to such extremes would be a loss and a failure that we cannot resolve. Especially since the solutions exist: benchmark sporting events are already demonstrating this through actions that, in particular, reduce the environmental footprint.

These first signals form the basis of a movement that must extend and reach all circles of the sports and events ecosystem, the model of which must be thoroughly redesigned around three axes: less, better and differently.

We must do less: stop the race for ever more disproportionate events, eliminate useless or redundant competitions, reduce the number of teams and athletes involved in the events, but also avoid aberrations such as ski slopes on sites that have never seen snow or grassy pitches where it doesn’t rain…

We must also do better: mobilize exclusively virtuous means (eco-construction, energy sobriety, circular economy, sustainable mobility, etc.) and become a benchmark for other sectors.

Finally, we must do otherwise: involve all the players, including sponsors and public decision-makers. The environmental imperative must be integrated into the model of major sporting events as a contributory lever rather than being considered as a brake.

Failing to implement the appropriate actions, the consequences of climate change will not fail to impose themselves on sports practice at all levels – school, amateur, professional – and make us pay the price of inaction. The rise in temperatures can, on its own, impact the performance of athletes and endanger their health, cause a population to lose up to 2 months of sports practice and condemn certain sports sites and equipment, in particular nautical.

There is still time to act to honor the motto which, beyond Olympism, inspires all competitors and unites human communities in the love of sport. Yes, the time has come to do “less, better and differently” to, together, continue to go “faster, higher, stronger”

► “Encourage reasonable candidates”

Vincent Chaudelsports economist and Vice-President of the Sport and Citizenship think tank

In essence, major international competitions generate the travel of athletes, their supervision and, most often, the arrival of national media and fans. It is difficult in these conditions to make them exemplary events in environmental terms. Victims of their success, they continue to grow and therefore increase their need for infrastructure, travel and consumables.

As for sports bodies, their interest is to develop their geographical and media coverage via these meetings for which they ensure that there is always a “legacy”. Too often, this objective translates into stone: a stadium, a swimming pool, an arena, an airport… But in the face of geopolitical tensions, it is difficult to deprive yourself of their symbolic and peaceful significance.

More than responsible candidacies, reasonable candidacies should be favored. If Fifa had asked Qatar to share the organization of the 22e World Cup with one of its neighbours, there might have been fewer stadiums and hotels to build and therefore less pressure and controversy. The ideal would be to designate one or more host countries with only a few new buildings to build. In this, Paris 2024 could well become a benchmark for major international sporting events.



Map of the Tour de France 2023: find the route of this Grande Boucle

A funny snake of 3,404 km which sometimes gives the impression of trying to bite its own tail: the route of this Tour 2023 revealed as usual with great fanfare this Thursday, October 27 by ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation), the organizing company, has a rather unprecedented look. But it was necessary to adapt to this constraint of a “great departure” in the Spanish Basque Country which forces us to shake up the usual patterns.

The Grande Boucle, it is true, is no longer a surprise. In 1992, with already a start in San Sebastian, she quickly cleared the Pyrenees to visit the North, Belgium and Luxembourg in an acrobatic split. By taking off next year from Bilbao and after three first 100% Basque stages promised to adventurers who love bumps, it quickly imposes serious things, with the Pyrenees which will certainly not be the main course but offer themselves in consistent entry from July 5th. A classic Pau-Laruns and a severe climb towards Cauterets, the organizers do not skimp on the animation of a first week which has not been used for a long time as a nice warm-up.

Back to the mythical Puy-de-Dôme

A first week which will also end on July 9 on a summit, and not the least: the mythical Puy-de-Dôme. This is the big blow of this Tour 2023. Returning to the monster, inaccessible since 1988 because of the narrowness of a road also prohibited by municipal decree since 2012, was one of the dreams of Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Round. He has worked in recent years to bring down the resistance one by one, and with the respect of drastic access limitations (no spectators, restricted followers), the Tour will relive the climb for the fourteenth time since 1952, and awaken the ghosts of Raymond Poulidor and Jacques Anquetil who wrote on these slopes on July 12, 1964 some unforgettable lines of cycling legend.

The possibility of climbing the volcano again was well worth a long stay in Auvergne, the region benefiting from four days of presence, including the first day of rest in Clermont-Ferrand, before heading for the Jura via the wine route Beaujolais, for a stage on July 14 to Grand-Colombier considered one of the toughest passes in France, and especially the Alps, less spoiled in recent years, but to which the 2023 edition gives pride of place, in two times.

The Alps as a main course, the Vosges for dessert

First towards Morzine with a Col de Joux-Plane which in the past has had a great time upsetting the classifications, then towards Saint-Gervais before the second day of rest. The rest promises sparks, with a short (22 km) but very tough time trial, and the return to the 17e stage on July 19 towards the altiport of Courchevel of the very nasty Col de la Loze, specially tarmacked for its frightening appearance during the 2020 Tour. The 21.5 km of ascent, of which the last seven are almost inhuman with slopes around 20 %, will once again push the runners to their limits.

End of hostilities? What not. To get the peloton out of the way, the organizers have planned a fifth massif, the Vosges, for dessert. On the eve of the arrival in Paris, climbing the balloon and the small balloon of Alsace, and six chained passes should satisfy the strongest appetites.

The menu is therefore rather rich, and you will have to like to hurt yourself. Can the profile push the new darling of world cycling, the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, recent winner of the Tour of Spain, to come and taste his first Tour de France rather than waiting for 2024 as planned in his program? This is obviously the question that will still agitate the months to come. The playing field can make you salivate, but it is above all the different actors in full that fans of the little queen hope for. Finally a Tour with all the top names: Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogacar, Remco Evenepoel, Egan Bernal, Primoz Roglic, Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel, all on the same poster. Chick!

► The stages of the Tour de France 2023

July 1: 1st stage Bilbao (Spain) – Bilbao, 182 km

July 2: 2nd stage Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) – San Sebastian (Spain), 209 km

July 3: 3rd stage Amorebieta-Etxano (Spain) – Bayonne, 185 km

July 4: 4th stage Dax – Nogaro, 182 km

July 5: 5th stage Pau – Laruns, 165 km

July 6: 6th stage Tarbes – Cauterets-Cambasque, 145 km

July 7: 7th stage Mont-de-Marsan – Bordeaux, 170 km

July 8: 8th stage Libourne – Limoges, 201 km

July 9: 9th stage Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat – Puy-de-Dôme, 184 km

July 10: rest in Clermont-Ferrand

July 11: 10th stage Vulcania – Issoire, 167 km

July 12: 11th stage Clermont-Ferrand – Moulins, 180 km

July 13: 12th stage Roanne – Belleville-en-Beaujolais, 169 km

July 14: 13th stage Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne – Grand-Colombier, 138 km

July 15: 14th stage Annemasse – Morzine-Les Portes du Soleil, 152 km

July 16: 15th stage Les Gets-Les Portes du Soleil – Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, 180 km

July 17: rest in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc

July 18: 16th stage Passy – Combloux (individual time trial), 22 km

July 19: 17th stage Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc – Courchevel, 166 km

July 20: 18th stage Moûtiers – Bourg-en-Bresse, 186 km

July 21: 19th stage Moirans-en-Montagne – Poligny, 173 km

July 22: 20th stage Belfort – Le Markstein, 133 km

July 23: 21st stage Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – Paris Champs-Elysées, 115 km



The great misery of the small hands of the Gulf

They wanted to see and hear the migrant workers without whom the Gulf countries, and in particular Qatar, although rich in black gold or natural gas, could not boast of organizing major events such as the World football or rise to the rank of international powers. In an ambitious investigation, the two independent journalists, Sebastian Castelier and Quentin Müller, specialists in the Arabian Peninsula – they collaborate with many media, including The cross –, were not content to go to the small gas emirate on which all the spotlights are trained. They chose to take an interest in the system as a whole, starting from the countries of emigration, on the shores of Lake Victoria, in Kenya, to the Nepalese or Indian countryside.

The Gulf countries are seen as an escape route for tens of thousands of workers who only aspire to escape unemployment and poverty in order to support their families back home. “Nobody forces us physically, but it’s poverty, our life here that forces us to go there”, summarizes Trance, a poultry farmer from Mombasa. And the abuses begin even before boarding the plane, when this cheap labor must pay upstream recruitment agencies or suffer exorbitant rates to finance their departure.

Once in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates, these “contemporary slaves”, as the authors call them, are subject to “kafala”. The basis of employer exploitation in the Gulf, this system requires each foreign worker to have a sponsor – in effect their boss – in order to change employers or leave the country. Through some sixty testimonials from workers, relatives and witnesses to these practices, the almost systematic nature of the abuses emerges, whether it is low wages, deplorable working conditions or segregated housing. And then there are the suspicious deaths, the rapes, the disappearances…

An “unsuspected hell”

Even in Qatar, where kafala has been officially abolished, violations of labor law remain legion. The two journalists went to the industrial area of ​​Doha where some 400,000 workers live, mostly Asians and Africans, and their conclusion is clear: the violations remain, because “the laws are not respected by companies” summarizes Ahmed, a Togolese interviewed with great caution by the authors.

And beyond this “unsuspected hell”there is a human cost that cannot be seen even less: shortage of labor in the countries of origin, destroyed families, alcoholism, dropping out of school… A whole ecosystem from which the rich petromonarchies of the Gulf, the country of emigration (“If only the government would negotiate with Arab countries to impose dignified treatment on its citizens! », affirms one of their interlocutors), certain multinationals, and all those who have an interest in turning a blind eye to this disturbing reality. An important work to understand in an enlightened way the questions surrounding the World Cup.



Business, violence, injuries… French football taken by great discomfort

“It’s not the most peaceful climate I’ve known. » Addressing the last two matches of the Blues before the World Cup in Qatar, this Thursday, September 22 against Austria and Sunday in Denmark, Didier Deschamps regretted having to deal with a series of injuries which deprived him of 12 players, and not the least.

Hugo Lloris, the brothers Lucas and Théo Hernandez, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, and Karim Benzema point in particular to the infirmary. However, it is not these clouds that the coach evokes when speaking of the ” climate “ around his France team, but rather those who have piled up on French football in recent weeks.

A proliferation of sordid affairs

First, the multiplication of sordid cases: the trial in England of former world champion Benjamin Mendy (ten selections), accused of seven rapes between October 2018 and August 2021; attempt “organized gang extortion” of which Paul Pogba was the victim and which earned five of his relatives, including his brother Mathias, an indictment pronounced on September 17; the other indictment, a day earlier, of Aminata Diallo, ex-international (seven selections) and PSG player, suspected of being the sponsor in November 2021 of an attack with an iron bar against her ex – teammate Kheira Hamraoui.

Then, the deep malaise within the French Football Federation (FFF) after the revelations of the magazine SoFoot on the dysfunctions of the institution and cases of sexual harassment involving its president Noël Le Graët, and the war of succession latent between the latter and its general manager Florence Hardouin. A situation justifying the launch of an audit mission of the structure, decided on September 16 by the Ministry of Sports.

If we add to this context the recurring violence in the stands of the stadiums, as before the Europa League Conference match between Nice and Cologne on September 8 (32 injured) or the casual attitude of PSG coach Christophe Galtier and Kylian Mbappé on the environmental issue in the midst of a climate emergency, the accumulation is maddening and sends back a detestable image.

Can we compare it to the depressive state of the community after the scandal of the Knysna slingers at the 2010 World Cup? “The parallel is valid, and what is striking is the very rapid addition of facts that contradict the feeling of a rather healthy football after the coronation of 2018 and the popular success of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.comments Christophe Lepetit, researcher at the Center for Sports Law and Economics in Limoges. Some of them, in any case, raise very deep questions. »

A clear shift on societal issues

The drifts of players unable to cut with their bad associations? “This is not new, and it testifies to the increasingly crazy economic stakes of an environment that inevitably attracts covetousness.points out the economist Pierre Rondeau, co-director of the Sport and Society Observatory at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. And even women’s football is affected! » Too much money that turns the head of players torn between the injunction not to forget where they come from and that of knowing where they are going.

“We can point to the lack of training and civic education in training centers, which do not teach enough to become citizens, to distinguish right from wrong, to know how to stop when you are told no”also underlines Christophe Lepetit.

At the top of the round ball, the image is not more brilliant, with a Federation appearing more and more disconnected on certain societal subjects. On homophobia, sexism, the environment, federal positions are often very lukewarm. Is it the fault of the captain’s age, 80 for Noël Le Graët? “There may be a generation effect, but more broadly we realize that football is advancing by often relegating societal issues to the backgroundobserves Pierre Rondeau. I imagined that the Covid was going to change the situation. But this summer, transfer window spending has increased again and the outrageously financialized system continues its mad race, preparing for a World Cup in Qatar completely out of step with current concerns. »

The tricolor football crisis is part of a broader questioning. “The great barnum of the World Cup inevitably strikes at a time when we are talking about sobrietyconcludes Christophe Lepetit. It is one more element of a necessary general awareness. The major sports institutions cannot ignore it. They work, for some, to improve. But we should go faster and stronger. »


Fewer supporters in Qatar

Less support for the Blues in Qatar? If we are to believe the leaders of the Irresistibles Français, the main group of supporters of the France team, they will be only a hundred to follow the Blues at the next World Cup, against 600 at the previous one, in Russia, in 2018 .

In addition to the very high cost of transport and accommodation, and the low tourist interest of the country, some of the supporters also obey a logic of boycott, like François Bonnel, one of the co-founders of the Irresistibles Français. He indicated that he had “decided to condemn this Cup”, assuring that he would not watch the matches on television either.



US Open 2022: Iga Swiatek wins her third Grand Slam

First imperial then resistant, the world number 1 Iga Swiatek won her first US Open on Saturday September 10 in New York, taking the best of the Tunisian Ons Jabeur (5th) 6-2, 7-5 in the final.

At 21, the Pole adds a third Grand Slam title to her collection, after her two coronations at Roland-Garros in 2020 and in June this year. She succeeds the New York winners of the Briton Emma Raducanu, who created the sensation in 2021, by winning after leaving the qualifications.

Faced with Ons Jabeur, who was playing her second consecutive Major final after the one lost two months ago at Wimbledon, she held her rank as favorite. Aggressive and sharp, Iga Swiatek quickly chained the winning blows, overtaking her rival, who appeared borrowed from the heart of Arthur-Ashe where she entered much more tense than usual.

Turn of the ninth game

The Pole broke her from the start, then two more times in this one-way first set, at the end of which she passed 90% of the first ball and attacked the net with great success (eight points scored out of 9 climbs ).

The Tunisian, who had managed to unbreak to respond to the loss of her first game of service by releasing beautiful uncrossed forehands, could not confirm this burst on her following commitments, betrayed by a first ball, yet one of her points strong, broken down.

At the start of the second set, after drawing on her concentration in her chair, closing her eyes and breathing deeply, Iga Swiatek resumed with a bang, with effective placed attacks and broke away 3-0.

Advantage that Ons Jabeur immediately set about erasing, finally letting go of his shots. Debreak followed by another because the Pole again took her service behind, after exchanges showing that a completely different match was then being played.

The ninth game was a turning point, during which Ons Jabeur cornered Iga Swiatek, who only owed his salvation to the unforced errors of the Tunisian. The latter thus wasted three break points and blamed herself for it by shouting her frustration. But, she breathed relief at 6-5 against her when her rival missed a match point. A short reprieve since in the tie-break, Iga Swiatek did not miss the opportunity to end on his second decisive opportunity in 1:51.

Great season

In New York, the world number 1 showed that she was not just a clay court player. Her victory on the cement of Flushing Meadows where she had, until this fourth participation, never passed the stage of the round of 16 demonstrates her dazzling progress, already glimpsed at the very beginning of the year at the Australian Open where she had reached the semi-finals.

US Open 2022: Iga Swiatek wins her third Grand Slam

A success which comes a little more to crown a formidable season, since between February 20 and June 22, she chained no less than 37 victories which offered her six titles in a row, in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome then Roland-Garros.

An irresistible momentum finally stopped in the third round of Wimbledon by the French Alizé Cornet, which preceded a difficult start to the American summer, with early eliminations in Toronto then Cincinnati. But as the champion she has become, it didn’t take her long to resume her royal path.