African Cup of Nations: the crazy team of the Comoros

They are there and it’s amazing: the players of the Comoros, with the gratin of continental football for this African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, representing for the first time their small archipelago of 850,000 inhabitants, a real feat. Defeated by Gabon for their entry into the competition (1-0), they face Morocco this Friday, January 14 with the firm intention of showing that they are not “not here by chance”, insists their coach Amir Abdou.

→ REREAD. CAN 2022: figures of African football denounce the contempt of which the competition would be the victim

He knows well, the master at playing, what they went through to be able to jump into the big leagues. An incredible outfit combining determination, consistency, friendships and the fervor of an entire people. A rare story, written out of nothingness and with uncertain ink.

The incredible energy of coach Amir Abdou

Because what are the Comoros on the football planet, when the adventure begins in 2014? The microstate vaguely has a national team recognized by the International Federation (Fifa) only in 2005, and at the bottom of the hole in the early 2010s. Due to lack of money, the team cannot participate in the playoffs of the CAN 2013. For two years, the Comoros therefore disappear from the international circuit.

To rebuild on this nothing, the local Federation hopes to recruit Henri Stambouli, ex-trainer of Marseille in the 1990s. Except that the negotiations fall apart at the last moment. And so here is on the track the one who was to play the assistants, Amir Abdou. A former amateur player forced to put away his crampons due to injuries, the Franco-Comorian, who lives in the south-west of France, converted to an educator, and then coaches an honorary division team (sixth level national). At the same time, he exercises his profession as a territorial civil servant in the youth service of his small town of Bon-Encontre, near Agen (Lot-et-Garonne).

Amir Abdou therefore finds himself almost by default embarked on a project which he will completely take over, with mad energy. To rebuild the selection from A to Z, he is betting on the French diaspora and the very large community, established mainly in the Marseille region. It is still necessary to convince these dual nationals to try the adventure. But he knows how to find the words, and make the conquered troops stay.

Crazy proportions

The results help, the selection going from 193and at 127and world rank in three years. Corn “It’s a permanent fight”, says the coach. And with inevitably reduced means in one of the poorest countries in the world. He himself is only employed by the Federation from 2017. He must struggle to structure a framework worthy of players accustomed to European standing, even if it is that of the lower divisions. The Federation does not have an equipment supplier? A local brand is created, Maana Sport, which supplies free of charge, without a real contract.

And the case progresses, with ups and downs. On the archipelago, the enthusiasm for breeding is taking on crazy proportions. For the worse sometimes. During the CAN 2017 qualifying campaign, after missing the equalizing penalty against Uganda, the players left the stadium under stones. “Hell, summarizes Amir Abdou in an interview with the Bal des productions press agency. But we hung on. »

So comes the best, often. On the second day of qualifying for the current CAN, the Comoros won, in their new Malouzini stadium in Moroni financed by Chinese capital, an unexpected 0-0 draw against the Egyptian giant. The crowd massed in the stands, filled to double the capacity of the enclosure, surges onto the lawn. The announcer screams to ask for the evacuation, arguing for a possible cancellation of the result. In less than three minutes, the supporters wisely resume their place in the stands!

popular fervor

Above all, we must not hinder the march of national heroes who will qualify a few months later, triggering incredible popular jubilation. The team pleases all the more that it does not crown any star. Bonus to the collective, with 17 players out of 28 playing in France. “This group is above all a family before being a football team”, underlined the sports director Djamal Mohamed before the start of the CAN. The subject is not overused.

And the team, which has reached maturity (28 years on average), hopes to establish itself in the landscape. After two years without an equipment supplier, a new Italian partner (Macron Sports) is at its side for four years, and a new federal management is thinking about a more sustainable development, allowing to convince even more dual nationals to join the “Cœlacanthes”, the nickname of the selection. They are there, and maybe for a long time.


The Gambia, the other novice

In 2019, Burundi, Mauritania and Madagascar discovered the event, with happiness for Madagascar which climbed for its first until the quarter-finals (eliminated by Tunisia 3-0). This year, alongside the Comoros, it is Gambia which also plays the novices. Like the Coelacanths, the Scorpions owe their qualification to the patient work of recruiting a workforce, of which 27 of the 28 players play abroad, entrusted since 2018 to Belgian technician Tom Saintfiet, a frequent traveler on the continent (passed through Namibia, Ethiopia, Malawi and Togo). Winner of the first match against Mauritania (1-0) this Wednesday, January 12, Gambia, 150and in the FIFA rankings, will have a lot to do to qualify against Mali (January 16) and Tunisia (January 20).



Incidents in football: the FFF hits hard, Paris FC and Lyon eliminated from the Coupe de France

The French Football Federation (FFF) hit hard on Monday, December 27, after the incidents in the stands that occurred during the 32e of the Coupe de France final between Paris FC and Lyon ten days ago. Thus, the two clubs are eliminated from the 2021-2022 edition, OL is suspended from the competition from 2022-2023 and the Lyon club will be deprived of its traveling supporters until the end of the season. .

→ READ. Incidents in football, towards new disciplinary sanctions

The disciplinary commission of the FFF wasted no time: after the hearings by videoconference in the morning, Monday, the sanctions fell by press release in the afternoon. ” The disciplinary commission of the French Football Federation retains the disciplinary responsibility of the two clubs in the incidents that occurred during this meeting “, She affirms in advance whereas the presidents of the two clubs returned the ball to each other since December 17th.

Paris FC and OL both lost matches ” by penalty », Which means that Nice, who was to face the winner of this duel, is already qualified for the 8es of the Coupe de France. Paris FC also receives a five-game suspension from its home ground, the Charléty stadium, and a fine of € 10,000.

The sanctions targeting OL are even heavier with ” the closure of the outside visitors area until the end of the 2021-2022 season “, L1 matches included,” the exclusion from competition of the Coupe de France, accompanied by the suspension, from the 2022-2023 edition », A fine of € 52,000 and reimbursement of costs linked to the repair of damaged seats by its supporters.

Three supporters arrested

The disciplinary committee undoubtedly held against OL that this was the second serious incident involving the Lyon club, after the one against Marseille in Ligue 1, on November 21. The throwing of a full bottle of water on the Marseillais Dimitri Payet and the stoppage of the match after a few minutes had earned OL the withdrawal of one point in the standings. The meeting will have to be replayed behind closed doors.

→ ANALYSIS Football: when supporters slip and penalize their team

On Friday, December 17, it was at half-time for the Cup match between the PFC (L2) and OL, at the Charléty stadium, that the overflows took place. Smoke had been launched near the parking lot of Lyon supporters and fights had broken out in the stands, leading to crowd movements and the deployment of the police. Two people, a supporter and a policeman, were injured.

If no arrest took place at the time, three ultra Parisian supporters were then arrested. Two of them will be tried for violence in meetings, we learned last Wednesday from the prosecution, which opened an investigation the day after the events.

According to a source familiar with the matter, ” ultras from Paris SG could be identified on the videos “Incidents, while the Lyon ultras” wanted to do battle at Gare de Lyon »On their arrival in the capital.



Tennis: Davis Cup is moving further and further away from its tradition

Completed, in two steps, three movements. Thursday, November 25, a hard-won success from the Czech Republic (2-1). Saturday, November 27, a defeat announced against Great Britain (1-2). And this Sunday 28, a very slim hope of qualifying suspended from the results of other matches, logically contrary to the end: the Blues of tennis have already finished with the Davis Cup 2021, a purge carried out in Austria and behind closed doors, pandemic obliges .

To console ourselves, we can summon the memory of the campaigns of yesteryear, meetings over three days with marathon matches in five rounds with a knife in front of a excited audience. It was the silver bowl of the golden era, before money matters came to the net, and a man named Gerard Piqué took the stake.

→ ANALYSIS. Men’s tennis in the face of losing points of reference

The defender and businessman of Football Club de Barcelona acquired for twenty-five years, with his company Kosmos, the rights to the prestigious competition in 2018, by offering the International Tennis Federation (ITF) a check which, as we say, do not refuse: nearly three billion euros.

“They are killing the competition”

The Davis Cup was certainly not at its best, no longer managing to seduce the big players and the sponsors. The “savior” Pique was able to upset the formula, reduced to a kind of league of 18 teams gathered over a week in Madrid. The first in 2019 turned in part to a fiasco, with an atmosphere at half mast outside the matches of Spain of Rafael Nadal (victorious finally), and a wobbly organization, meetings sometimes ending at the end of the night.

Canceled due to the Covid last year, the event takes place this year for its group stages at three sites, in Innsbruck, Turin and Madrid. Between the closed door imposed in Austria, the very sparse public in Italy and Spain, and the absence of 10 players from the World Top 15 (many injured at the end of the season, and the German Alexander Zverev, world No. 3, refusing to come), the overhaul is struggling to convince at least. But the worst is still elsewhere, with the revelation last week by the English press of a move to come for the next five years to Abu Dhabi.

The ITF has yet to validate this transfer, but the case seems heard. And it is already causing an outcry. “If they are now selling the soul of Davis Cup to the Middle East, I think it’s ridiculous and they’re killing the competition”, annoyed Lleyton Hewitt, the former champion who now coaches the Australian team. The French captain Sébastien Grosjean is also alarmed by such a development: “I think we have to sit around a table with the authorities of the circuit and integrate the players into the discussions regarding the programming, the calendar, to perhaps put this Davis Cup back in a home-away format and find the best formula. “

A pure logic of profits

The time does not seem, however, for the great democratic brainstorming. Kosmos has bet big on the Davis Cup. Because of the pandemic, the premiums paid have already been reduced (from 23 to 19 million euros, to be distributed to players and federations). We must find reliable partners to guarantee the future.

“And in this context, the sports policy of the United Arab Emirates is in perfect harmony with the Kosmos project, analysis Raphaël Le Magoariec, doctoral student specializing in the Middle East at the University of Tours. Abu Dhabi only uses sport in its diplomacy as a tool to develop its economic network. Its Formula 1 Grand Prix, for example, is only for inviting VIPs and doing business. The Davis Cup would be part of this movement, and regardless of the issues of image, profitability, or public interest. “

In fact, tennis fans are unlikely to be able to afford an expensive trip to follow their teams in Abu Dhabi. The popular dimension which had hitherto been all the salt of the ordeal? “Entities like Kosmos are driven by economic profit and have nothing to do with passion for sport. The Gulf monarchies interest them for their enormous financial capacities. And these monarchies laugh at their side of the external feeling. They do not operate on the same sporting imagination as our Western perceptions. For Kosmos as for Abu Dhabi, the Davis Cup is a product that must be sold. The rest is of little importance. “


Gerard Piqué, business version

Kosmos, the small business of the 34-year-old Catalan footballer, is becoming more and more conqueror. In December 2020, it invests in the French start-up Sorare, which is developing a business of digital football playing cards, and a few months later becomes the French technology company with the biggest fundraising (580 million euros). .

In June 2021, Kosmos launched an agency to represent top athletes, with Austrian tennis player Dominic Thiem as its first client. In August, Kosmos offered the rights to the French Ligue 1 in Spain. Very recently, Gerard Piqué also distinguished himself by launching… the World Balloon Championship. Splurge ? Mostly a hit on the Twitch app. Good sense of dribbling and business.



2022 World Cup: the Blues, an exciting qualification before a long wait

Everything was perfectly in place. On the program, back to the future. History to be scared and to spice up the session. The framework first. The Parc des Princes, for the first time in ages, the Stade de France being embarrassed by works around. And then the stake: a qualification for the World Cup. The last time these two parameters were combined was in the fall of 1993, one of the most sinister moments in the history of national football.

→ DEBATE. Football: should we boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

The Blues received, Saturday, November 13, Kazakhstan to validate their ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and therefore hovered in the stands of the 28-year-old ghosts. Those at the end of the 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign, the collective memory reducing the failure of the then Blues to this improbable defeat (1-2) against Bulgaria on November 17 on a goal scored by Emil Kostadinov, to six seconds of the end of regulation time. Except that the fall of the House of France had also been played out a month earlier, already in the Park, against Israel. Tiny football nation (71e in the Fifa ranking), but which, badaboum, won in the pouring rain (3-2), showering the Blues annoyed.

A historic Mbappé

This cursed fall, Didier Deschamps, at the time both times in the field, did not hesitate to summon her to motivate his troops before Kazakhstan: “You don’t have to think you’re qualified before you are. It happened, personally, I paid for it, it must not be repeated ”. It was said. Kazakhstan, 125e world nation and 13 consecutive games without success, facing recent world champions winners of the League of Nations, the warning was not worth crippling trauma.

A certain Kylian Mbappé, in fact, hastened to nip the anxieties in the bud. A hat-trick in just over half an hour, and there was no need to worry anymore. Just enjoy an ideal evening, with goals strung like in the parade against a defense of Kazakhstan of a marked weakness: 8 in total, Mbappé finally signing a quadruplet never seen in the selection since Just Fontaine in 1958, Karim Benzema a double to look good, Adrien Rabiot his first achievement in blue, and Antoine Griezmann a penalty to participate in the party.

The Blues are therefore qualified before their last match against Finland, Tuesday, November 16 in Helsinki, and this is a first. In a group without real rivals, they have for once avoided stumbling stupidly to invite themselves to their 7e World Cup in a row. So here they are, ready to step into the unknown, this long tunnel eleven months before the arrival of the major competition. Pushed back almost on time on the Advent calendar, the 2022 Mondial (November 21-December 18) promises a very long wait when the debates usually come to life with the end of spring. What to think about and put the work back on the job? No doubt, because the sites opened by Didier Deschamps in recent months are not yet at the finishing stage.

A system still to be refined

To be confirmed in particular, the playing system favored by Didier Deschamps, this defense with three defenders who took time to win since his first try against Albania in November 2019 (2-0). It has only been installed since the start of the 2021 school year, with the efficiency we know in the League of Nations, but the role played in particular by the additional “pistons” on the wings, with a Kingsley Coman twirling against Kazakhstan, is to be further reinforced in the face of more solid opposition.

We know that this choice corresponds to the desire to put the three stars of the attack in the best possible conditions. Saturday night’s offensive festival should not make people forget that the Griezmann-Benzema-Mbappé trio can still be improved and that the three are not yet in tune. Finally, to be refined, the integration of promising young shoots of the Blues. Didier Deschamps has not hesitated in recent months to launch new recruits, rather with great success. The astonishing maturity at 21 years of Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni, the spectacular ardor of AC Milan defender Théo Hernandez (24 years old), the slaughter of the Sevilla side Jules Koundé (23 years old), or the availability of Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby (22) are all promises to be confirmed.

→ READ. In Qatar, the hidden face of the 2022 World Cup

Adjustment opportunities will not be legion in 2022, and the final preparation non-existent, the players being released only one week before the start of the World Cup. It is not the least of the difficulties which awaits these Blues of gala.


A still unclear program

After their meeting without a stake against Finland on Tuesday, November 16, the Blues will separate for more than three months. The reunion is scheduled for March 2022, with, in the boxes, a tournament project in Qatar in the company of three other teams including that of the emirate, which could be finalized in January. The other matches already scheduled are those of the League of Nations, the draw of which is scheduled for December 16. Four are announced in June, two at the end of September. The Blues will not be reunited until November 14, a short week before the start of the World Cup.



Coupe de France final: Paris Saint-Germain beats Monaco 2-0

Paris SG won Wednesday, May 19 against Monaco (2-0) a 14e Coupe de France, his favorite title which allows him to rebalance the balance sheet of a complicated season, before the outcome of the Championship. The club of the capital waited for the reopening of the terraces to take a cup, at the end of a joyful evening which carried away the placid Mauricio Pochettino. “We work every day for this type of emotion. Each title counts to go to the story “, savored Kylian Mbappé, scorer for the 2-0, at the microphone of France 2.

→ ANALYSIS. Final of the Coupe de France: this Paris Saint-Germain which no longer frightens the big clubs

Before going to Brest on Sunday for the last day of Ligue 1, Marquinhos’ teammates retain the right to believe in it, they who have become accustomed to being efficient when they are up against the wall. Their success against Monaco illustrates it well: without Neymar or Presnel Kimpembe, suspended, without Marco Verratti, injured in a knee, against the best team of the country of the year 2021, the Parisians have managed the match it needs.

Icardi goalscorer

Admittedly in a somewhat flamboyant style, but solid and realistic, they benefited from a Monegasque gift to unlock the meeting. Mbappé took advantage of a failed control from Axel Disasi, 15 meters from his goal, to recover the ball and serve Mauro Icardi, who pushed it into the empty cage (19e). A symbolic action: if Neymar and Mbappé embody the spectacular PSG that the club sells to its fans, that of “Goleador” also suits him when it comes to describing this season.

→ PORTRAIT. Marquinhos, exemplary captain of Paris-Saint-Germain

The “Goleador” was often injured or out of form, but he was decisive in each final, having already opened the scoring in the Champions Trophy against OM (2-1), like a team that has all too rarely seduced by his game, but who often responded when it mattered.

The rest of his match? No other opportunity was created… but behind, Keylor Navas, Marquinhos or Danilo watched, with a solidarity that recalled the European spring of PSG, against Barça or Bayern. With such a constant defense – an important point for Parisians who recently experienced drops in pace in the second half – Mbappé did not have to force.

But he scored (81e) to kill the match, started by Angel Di Maria. A coolness that characterizes the last three months of the former Monegasque, about to complete the most prolific exercise of his career (41 goals in all competitions).

Monaco helpless

Opposite, his future teammate with the Blues at Euro Wissam Ben Yedder, replaced in the 60e minute, symbolized the helplessness of the ASM who monopolized the ball, after the opening of the scoring, without materializing. Kevin Volland (25e, 39e), Aleksandr Golovin (39e), Krépin Diatta (70e) or Aurélien Tchouaméni (78e) have tried, Gelson Martins too (69e), but the Portuguese’s vicious strike found Navas’ bar.

Monaco will have to wait a little longer to lift a trophy that has eluded them since 1991. The apprenticeship continues for the young troop trained by Niko Kovac, who has not lost everything either.

With his 14e Coupe de France, competition record, the club from the capital escapes the catastrophic scenario of the white season. And if he is not champion on Sunday, he has at least laid the foundations for next season.



Rugby World Cup 2023: the full schedule of matches

A dream poster to begin with. During the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the XV of France will be under pressure from the outset: the Blues will begin with an already eagerly awaited shock against the New Zealand All Blacks, on September 8 at the Stade de France, according to the schedule of the competition unveiled Friday February 26. Placed in pool A, the Blues will also face a qualifier from the America zone on September 14 in Lille, then that of the Africa zone on September 21 in Marseille. Before finishing in Lyon, on October 6, against Italy.

→ THE FACTS. Rugby World Cup 2023: the “Blacks” for the Blues

For their part, the South African title holders will launch their campaign in front of Scotland on September 10 at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille. The teammates of Cheslin Kolbe and Siya Kolisi will also cross swords with Ireland on September 23 at the Stade de France while the duel between the two Celtic neighbors will take place in the Dionysian enclosure on October 7.

Rugby World Cup 2023: the full schedule of matches

In Pool D, England will find Argentina on September 9, which the XV de la Rose had chewed without batting an eyelid (39-10) during the group stage in 2019, and Japan, the last host of the World Cup. Finally, the Fijians will have a lot to do in Group C, with Wales, which they challenge on September 10 in Bordeaux, and Australia on September 17 in Saint-Étienne.

In total, forty-eight matches will be played in nine host cities (Saint-Denis, Marseille, Nice, Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, Saint-Étienne, Nantes). The ticket office will be open mid-March. The final is scheduled for October 28, at the Stade de France.

The full schedule for the 2023 World Cup in France (September 8-October 28):

♦ POOL A (New Zealand, France, Italy, qualified zone America 1, qualified zone Africa 1)

08/09 in Saint Denis (Stade de France) France – New Zealand

09/09 in Saint-Étienne (Stade Geoffroy-Guichard) Italy – Africa 1

09/14 in Lille (Pierre-Mauroy Stadium) France – America 1

09/15 in Toulouse (Stadium) New Zealand – Africa 1

09/20 in Nice (Stade Riviera) Italy – America 1

09/21 in Marseille (Stade Vélodrome) France – Africa 1

09/27 in Lyon (Stade des Lumières) America 1 – Africa 1

09/29 in Lyon (Stade des Lumières) New Zealand – Italy

05/10 in Lyon (Stade des Lumières) New Zealand – America 1

06/10 in Lyon (Stade des Lumières) France – Italy

POOL B (South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, qualified Asia / Pacific zone 1, qualified zone Europe 2)

09/09 in Bordeaux (Stade Atlantique) Ireland – Europe 2

10/09 in Marseille (Stade Vélodrome) South Africa – Scotland

09/16 in Nantes (Stade de la Beaujoire) Ireland – Asia / Pacific 1

09/17 in Bordeaux (Stade Atlantique) South Africa – Europe 2

09/23 in Saint-Denis (Stade de France) South Africa – Ireland

24/09 in Nice (Stade Riviera) Scotland – Asia / Pacific 1

09/30 in Lille (Stade Pierre-Mauroy) Scotland – Europe 2

01/10 in Marseille (Stade Vélodrome) South Africa – Asia / Pacific 1

07/10 in Saint-Denis (Stade de France) Ireland – Scotland

08/10 in Lille (Pierre-Mauroy Stadium) Asia / Pacific 1 – Europe 2

♦ POOL C (Wales, Australia, Fiji, qualified Europe 1, winner of the final qualifying round)

09/09 in Saint-Denis (Stade de France) Australia – Europe 1

10/09 in Bordeaux (Stade Atlantique) Wales – Fiji

16/09 in Nice (Stade Riviera) Wales – TQF winner

09/17 at Saint-Étienne (Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium) Australia – Fiji

23/09 at Toulouse (Stadium) Europe 1 – winner TQF

24/09 in Lyon (Stade des Lumières) Wales – Australia

09/30 in Bordeaux (Stade Atlantique) Fiji – Europe 1

01/10 at Saint-Étienne (Stade Geoffroy-Guichard) Australia – TQF winner

07/10 in Nantes (Stade de la Beaujoire) Wales – Europe 1

08/10 at Toulouse (Stadium) Fiji – TQF winner

♦ POOL D (England, Japan, Argentina, qualified Oceania zone 1, qualified America zone 2)

09/09 in Marseille (Stade Vélodrome) England – Argentina

10/09 in Toulouse (Stadium) Japan – America 2

09/16 in Bordeaux (Stade Atlantique) Oceania 1 – America 2

09/17 in Nice (Stade Riviera) England – Japan

09/22 in Saint-Étienne (Stade Geoffroy-Guichard) Argentina – Oceania 1

23/09 in Lille (Pierre-Mauroy Stadium) England – America 2

09/28 in Toulouse (Stadium) Japan – Oceania 1

09/30 in Nantes (Stade de la Beaujoire) Argentina – America 2

07/10 in Lille (Stade Pierre-Mauroy) England – Oceania 1

08/10 in Nantes (Stade de la Beaujoire) Japan – Argentina

♦ Quarter-finals

14/10 in Marseille (Stade Vélodrome) 1st pool C – 2nd pool D

10/14 at Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 1st pool B – 2nd pool A

10/15 in Marseille (Stade Vélodrome) 1st pool D – 2nd pool C

10/15 at Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 1st pool A – 2nd pool B

♦ Semi-finals

20/10 at Saint-Denis (Stade de France) winner QF 1 – winner QF 2

10/21 at Saint-Denis (Stade de France) winner QF 3 – winner QF 4

♦ Match for the 3e square

27/10 at Saint-Denis (Stade de France) losing SF 1 – losing SF 2

♦ Final

28/10 at Saint-Denis (Stade de France) winner SF 1 – winner SF 2



Skiing World Cup: the Alexis Pinturault case

If the snowfall that has resulted in several cancellations of races since the start of the Cortina d’Ampezzo Worlds does not decide otherwise, Alexis Pinturault will set off on the super-G track this Wednesday, February 10 for the first part of the combined. Before facing in stride the poles of the slalom event. The Savoyard is in any case the best placed to succeed itself, Monday February 15.

Sacred world champion he is two years old, in Are (Sweden) in this discipline less and less practiced (no World Cup event has been organized this year), he dominates the circuit thanks to his versatility.

A rare quality in the white circus where hyper specialization is required. His fellow slalomers from the French Team flee the giant’s long curves and the descenders do not risk themselves between the poles. But he happily jumps from one discipline to another, performing in slalom, in giant (his specialty), but also in super-G.

Two trainers at his service in Austria

A triple cap which places him this year in pole position to become the third Frenchman to win the general classification of the World Cup, thus succeeding two other famous versatile, Luc Alphand and Jean-Claude Killy. In 2014, the latter had dubbed their potential heir in a famous video broadcast by the site of the specialized magazine “Ski chrono”.

We saw the two former patters on the shoulder of the 23-year-old kid at the time and promise him the two Grails of alpine skiing: this famous big crystal globe awarded to the winner of the World Cup and an Olympic champion title. . Two cuts that still slip through his hands, seven years later.

→ THE FACTS. Skiing: ski lifts will remain closed this winter due to Covid-19

No doubt not for a very long time, given its recent results, the fruit of talent but also of a particular organization. After failed world championships in 2017, it was decided that the best French skier of the last twenty years would be allowed to train alone with a dedicated team.

A favor not understood at the time, but which the national technical director Fabien Saguez still welcomes. “ It was a good decision and it still is, his results are up to par. He takes part in a lot more races than the others, his status entails a lot more solicitations. He needed that and no Team skier complained about it. “

A van and a helicopter

Alexis Pinturault therefore took charge of the ski kingdom, Austria. White gold represents 15% of gross domestic product there and resort managers pamper the champions, not hesitating to privatize tracks permanently, including in speed disciplines that require a lot of space. Especially, in his case, since the Salzburg-based company Red Bull chose to sponsor him.

Since his installation in Altenmark Im Pongau, home of two of the greatest Austrian champions, Hermann Maier and Marcel Hirscher, he no longer wastes time in these exhausting trips from one valley to another depending on the snow conditions. And in the event of a logistical glitch, the Red Bull helicopter is never far away, not to mention the van that follows it everywhere to welcome its rest between two slalom heats.

To exceptional champion, exceptional treatments and invoices. The Federation has delegated two full-time coaches to its service and covers part of its costs. “It is certain that the operation of Alexis Pinturault is at first sight more expensive than that of another runner, continues Fabien Saguez, but it finances it up to two-thirds, thanks to its racing bonuses and sponsorship contracts. All in all, it does not cost the federation more than a regular runner, the cost of which is estimated at around 100,000 € per year. “

Especially since the Savoyard brings more than victories to the French medal counter. Since the decline of Tessa Worley, who still remains after a recent World Cup victory, he is the only one to keep the French ski racing at the top of the white basket. And his name has often come up during discussions concerning the attribution of the next Worlds in 2023, which will finally be organized in Courchevel, where he grew up.


One of the most beautiful French awards

Olympic bronze medalist in giant in Sochi (2014), bronze and silver in giant and combined in PyeongChang (2018), twice adorned gold at the Worlds (team event and combined in 2017 and 2019), Alexis Pinturault has, at almost 30 years, an impressive track record in major championships. But it is especially on the circuit of the World Cup that he imposed his paw. He climbed the top step 33 times, more often than any other Frenchman before him. Only seven men did better, including the inaccessible Ingemar Stenmark and Marcel Hirscher (86 and 67 wins).



Rugby World Cup 2023: the “Blacks” for the Blues

The party is already promising. The authors of the draw for the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023 had a happy hand on Monday, December 14 at the Palais Brongniart. From the group stage, the Blues will face the All Blacks. The certainty of not seeing the giants of the South again before the final, in the event of an ideal scenario.

Because no one can doubt that in this pool A, the two teams that will come out of these preliminary debates to reach the quarter-finals will be France and New Zealand. The two teams will be accompanied by Italy, and once the qualifications have been organized, which should offer by 2023 eight places for the World Cup, an American team (probably the United States or Canada) and an African team (probably Namibia or Kenya).

Like at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand

This France-New Zealand from the outset is in fact the repetition of the 2011 World Cup which took place among the leaders of the Pacific. The two nations faced each other in the first round on September 24: a stinging memory for the Blues, defeated 37-17 and five tries to two. But the two rivals met in the final on October 23, for a similar conclusion but otherwise more debated. A very small point in advance for the Blacks (8-7), and an eternal regret for the Blues, passed so close to the feat.

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Time for revenge in 2023? At least the certainty of an additional chapter in a very long common history. The All Blacks occupy a special place in the saga of the Blues, because they are the ones who participated in the birth certificate of the French rugby team. It was the 1er June 1906, the first official match of the Blues, thirteen years before the constitution of the French Rugby Federation. We spoke at the time of “football-rugby”. But the All Blacks were already masters of the oval. And they had devoured 38-8 of the small Blues all happy to have at least managed to plant a test.

A saga spanning over a century

A victory over these southern monsters was to be expected for a long time. Until February 27, 1954 exactly. A new tour of the Blacks in the northern hemisphere, for about thirty matches, including this duel with the Blues in Colombes. A match of big arms, a fury of unbreathable forwards. The Blues had scored a try in the first half (3-0, the test then worth three points), and the score had not changed. Even if in the second half, the Blacks had camped 32 minutes in the tricolor half of the field.

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Winning is good, but winning in New Zealand is better. The French are cockardiers, and they therefore apply to do so in 1979, July 14. The gang of Jean-Pierre Rives, Jérôme Gallion, Jean-Michel Aguirre, Robert Paparemborde and Philippe Dintrans made history that day by making their opponents go crazy (24-19). A festival, but almost nothing compared to this October 31, 1999, in the semi-finals of the World Cup at Twickenham.

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The Blues are there and it’s already huge, so much their V Nations Tournament was sad to cry (last), their summer tour in New Zealand calamitous, and their course in the competition almost a hold-up. But no doubt they are transcended by this meeting. They won 43-31 after a dazzling match. This is often the case with Blacks. Roll on 2023.

The groups :

Group A: New Zealand, France, Italy, America 1, Africa 1

Group B: South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Asia / Pacific 1, Europe 2

Group C: Wales, Australia, Fiji, Europe 1, repechage tournament winner

Group D: England, Japan, Argentina, Oceania 1, America 2