Figure skating: Bruno Massot, the battered course of a champion on ice

At the time of the European Championships, which begin this Wednesday, January 12 in Estonia, the French skaters are under no illusion: the podium hopes are almost non-existent in the absence of the star couple of ice dance Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who preferred to ignore the competition so as not to risk contamination with Covid-19 within a month of the Beijing Olympics.

→ ANALYSIS. Beijing Winter Olympics: athletes anticipate the Games under cover

This zero point on the medal table reflects the state of hexagonal skating under reconstruction. On the side of Normandy in particular, where, however, a beautiful story has been told in recent months: that of Bruno Massot, the native of the country who went to gild his reputation in Germany, Olympic champion under the Germanic flag in 2018 at the PyeongChang Games, back today in his club in Caen with a project in line with the desire for federal renovation. The realization of a dream, which took very devious ways to come true.

Olympic gold for Germany

First fork in 2014. Bruno Massot flies to Germany, to join the skater with whom he wants to relaunch, Aljona Savchenko. Leaving his long-standing club, the Caen sports and leisure artist (Acsel), was not the first idea. With his trainer Jean-François Ballester, Bruno Massot was thinking rather of bringing his future partner to France. Except that the French Ice Sports Federation is dragging its feet. On the contrary, his German counterpart offers the champion all the facilities to move. “The difference was huge, and I first thought about my career”, says the skater.

Bruno Massot settles across the Rhine. Jean-François Ballester, after twenty years of service in Caen, set out to found a high-level training center in Switzerland, while continuing to coach his foal. Four years later, the consecration. It was written ? Not really. “For eighteen months, the French Federation refused to release me, emphasizes Bruno Massot. I trained, but without the possibility of competing. I was living on € 200 per month. Obviously, it was not the ideal for skating serenely. When the situation was resolved, there were injuries, nothing was ever easy. So yes, the medal is beautiful, but what sacrifices! “

It does not appear on the 4 minutes and 30 minutes of the free development of the couple in PyeongChang. The tandem is weightless, succeeding in tricks and carried to perfection. At the time of the verdict of the judges, it is a torrent of tears. “I had enormous stress, I skated like a lion, with rage, Bruno Massot saw again. Twenty-three years of career that were played out there, in a few minutes. Afterwards, everything gave up. “

The return of the child prodigy

Bruno Massot finished in style, with a world title in stride. Time to put away the skates, to go train with Jean-François Ballester in Switzerland. But his mentor died six months later. “All my life, I never made a decision without his advice, loose the champion. I was lost, without landmarks. “ The Covid also complicates the situation. So with his wife, Bruno matures the idea of ​​returning home. At the turn of the year 2021, he called the president of Acsel in Caen.

→ ANALYSIS. French sports practice at half mast

“Bruno’s phone call presenting me his training center project was timely, indicates Ludovic Le Guennec. With the Covid, we had lost nearly 40% of our young people. We had to start from zero, on detection. Bruno was helping us to come out of a rather depressive period. “ It was still necessary to organize new occupancy slots for the ice rink, to obtain the support of local communities, of the federation. But this time, all the planets align. “I arrived in May 2021 on a red carpet, with a federation determined to rebuild by betting on new talents that I want to develop”, rejoices the gold medalist.

The center already has a dozen students. Bruno Massot is looking to recruit skaters and hopes to eventually have six couples. The structure must gain momentum, with a second training track that will have to be built by 2026, says the municipality. “In the meantime, we have to adapt and be patient, but we are on the right track”, assures the champion who already sees one of his young couples with astonishing progression skating in Milan in 2026. Bruno Massot believes in it. With determination. And also a lot of emotion: “I am in my ice rink, where it all began, and at the edge of the track in place of Jean-François Ballester who would have wanted so much to found a center here in Caen. It’s done. Let’s be up to it. “


Reduced numbers at the European Championships

In Tallinn, the blue delegation will consist of three pairs, a skater and a skater. But getting a podium would be a miracle. The last time the Blues posted a virgin record at the Euro, it was in 2014, the first continental competition of the ice dance tandem Gabriella Papadakis-Guillaume Cizeron. Since then, the duo has always held its place. The Blues will still count on the two champions at the Beijing Games to win a medal. They will be accompanied by the two skaters Adam Siao Him Fa and Kevin Aymoz, to complete the weakest French delegation in the history of the Games.



Restrictions started increasing again in Europe, emphasis is being given on vaccination

Corona Restrictions in Europe: In view of the increase in the cases of corona, restrictions have been increased once again in many countries of Europe. The dangerous Delta variant of Corona has spread in most European countries. Also, since the unlocked in Britain, the arrival of people here in European countries has increased. Of the new cases of corona coming out in Britain, about 99 percent are from the Delta variant. In view of this, all European countries including the Netherlands, Bulgaria have banned the arrival of tourists from Britain.

However, there is still a large number of tourists coming from Britain to the countries located in Southern Europe. According to experts, about 1 lakh 35 thousand tourists can reach these European countries this weekend. Due to which there can be a rapid increase in the cases of corona. Keeping this in mind, the countries of Europe have imposed strict rules on their respective borders.

France and Portugal are bringing vaccine passports

In view of the increasing number of tourists, France, Portugal, Greece and Italy are preparing to change the rules of their passports. Soon it may be made mandatory for tourists coming here to bring a vaccine passport. Apart from this, Germany has made it necessary for people coming from Spain and the Netherlands to be quarantined.

Also, Italy and France have made it mandatory to have certificates of both doses of the vaccine for entry into museums, gyms and cinema halls.

Emphasis is being placed on vaccination in Europe

In Europe, more than half the population has been given both doses of the vaccine. However, there are significant differences in the figures for different countries. If health experts are to be believed, if the cases of corona increase rapidly, then it can prove to be dangerous even for people who have got both doses of the vaccine.

Let us tell you that French President Emmanuel Macron has warned people about vaccination in his country. After which about 37 lakh people had registered to get the vaccine.

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Euro 2020: Germany-Hungary, more than just a football match

We would almost forget it in the end, but the event that will take place, between 9 p.m. and 10.45 p.m. on Wednesday 23 June in the Allianz Arena in Munich, is first and foremost a football match between Germany and the Hungary. These two selections will compete for the right to play a round of 16, at the same time as the other two teams in Group F, France and Portugal, will explain themselves in Budapest.

→ THE FACTS. Euro football: UEFA does not want rainbow illumination in Germany-Hungary match

If they lose or draw, Hungary will be eliminated. The Germans, quadruple world champions, will therefore start the match in a better position. But with the fear in the stomach to find oneself, like at the 2018 World Cup, ejected from a tournament from the group stage.

However, it is on a whole other ground, societal and political, that this meeting will also take place. In recent days, the controversy has swelled around a law recently adopted by the Hungarian parliament restricting the access of minors under 18 to content (films, sites) presenting homosexuality and gender change in a neutral or positive manner. The German LGBT movements, supported by a large part of the Mannschaft players engaged in the defense of ethnic or sexual minorities, reacted.

UEFA refused to play the game

They demanded that the Munich stadium, whose luminous shell can change color, be illuminated in the colors of the rainbow of the LGBT community. UEFA refused this request, in the name of the principle of neutrality of sport. This triggered a concert of protest in the European political world, including from the French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune or from the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen who on Wednesday described the Hungarian law as a ” shame “, going ” against all the fundamental values ​​of the EU ”.

UEFA, however, has not objected to German goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer wearing a rainbow armband. And it has no influence on Munich municipal decisions to light certain buildings, such as a wind turbine visible from the stadium, in the colors of the rainbow.

This should hardly please Hungarian supporters, some of whom belong to the ultra movement of the Carpathian Brigade, used to homophobic banners. Dressed in a black T-shirt, these ultras regularly refer to nationalist themes, evoking the positioning of Hungary (an unwavering ally of Nazi Germany) during the Second World War.

Football as a propaganda medium

But for Hungarian supporters, ultras or not, this match sounds the revenge of a very bad memory: the 1954 World Cup final, the last official (non-friendly) match between the two teams. The case ended in favor of the Germans (3-2), against the logic of the time: used as a spearhead of the sports power of the communist world, the Golden Team (gold team) of Ferenc Puskas, greatest player of the 1950s with Alfredo Di Stefano, dominated the world of football.

But that evening in July 1954, the golden team, which had beaten Germany 8-3 in the group stage, failed in the final: the Hungarians, who led 2-0 after eight minutes, were caught. then passed, on muddy ground incompatible with their admirable technique.

This match has gone down in history as the “miracle of Bern”. Which sounds the end of the great epic of Hungarian football, the pride of the regime until the Budapest uprising in 1956, causing the exodus of the best Hungarian players, including Ferenc Puskas. He did not return to his country until 1981, where he was honored as a national hero. Died in 2006, he is buried in Saint Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest (the most important in the country) and gave his name to the National Stadium.

Current President Viktor Orban, a former good footballer himself, has put the discipline back on track, injecting a lot of money into sports education, imposing one hour of sport a day on schoolchildren and encouraging his political friends to acquire and modernize the Hungarian clubs. “In the 1950s, football had become a place of expression of nationalism, a tool of propaganda, that Victor Orban adapts to new realities “, explains historian Paul Dietschy, author of History of football (Tempus ed, € 12). Not sure that much has changed.



Euro football: UEFA does not want rainbow illumination in Germany-Hungary match

Does politics have its place in a Euro football stadium? For UEFA, the answer is clear: it’s no. The European body refused Tuesday, June 22 the project of the city of Munich to illuminate its stadium in the rainbow colors of the LGBT community on the occasion of the Euro Germany-Hungary match on Wednesday (9 p.m.) . The aim of the project was to protest against a law deemed discriminatory recently passed in Hungary.

→ EXPLANATION. Hungary wants to crack down on “promotion” of homosexuality

“By its statutes, UEFA is a politically and religiously neutral organization”, explains the European confederation. “Given the political context of this request – a message aimed at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must refuse this request”, she justifies.

Hungary greeted on Tuesday “A good decision” through the voice of its Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with his European counterparts in Luxembourg. Present at the same meeting, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune declared ” to regret “ in the name of France this refusal.

11,000 flags distributed to spectators

In response to the position of the European body, which it considers “Shameful”, the city of Munich has indicated that it will decorate other buildings in the city –The Town Hall, a tower and a mill located near the stadium – in rainbow colors on match day. “We will not allow ourselves to be prevented from sending a clear signal to Hungary and to the world”, said city mayor Dieter Reiter.

The organizers of the Munich Pride March, associated with Amnesty International, for their part, have planned to hand out 11,000 rainbow flags to some of the match’s 14,000 spectators.

In its decision, UEFA, which says “Understand that the intention is also to send a message to promote diversity and inclusion”, proposed alternative dates for the stadium lighting.

A rainbow armband on the arm of the German captain

In Germany, where the controversy has taken the name of “rainbow gate”, other solidarity initiatives are flourishing. The private German channel ProSieben has decided to dress its logo in rainbow colors. Football clubs in Frankfurt and Cologne have also announced that they will light up their own stadiums in the evening in these colors.

→ REPORT. Euro 2021: France hits the Budapest wall

In addition, the German Federation had confirmed Monday that UEFA had given the green light to the wearing of a rainbow captain’s armband by Manuel Neuer. The European body said it saw no reason to sanction Germany “Considering that this gesture promotes a good cause”.



Euro 2021: France dominates Germany with a burning Pogba and an iron defense

When Pogba goes, everything is fine. This saying inherited from the 2018 World Cup, where the Manchester player was imperial in the game and decisive in the state of mind of the France group, was again verified, Tuesday, June 15 against Germany, during of the entry into contention of the Blues. For at least seventy minutes, he flew over his subject, multiplying offensive gestures in the first half. Starting with this bright opening of forty meters for the benefit of a Lucas Herdandez launched like a ball on the left flank, before centering hard on an unfortunate Mats Hummels, author of a goal against his camp.

→ PRACTICAL. Euro 2021: curfew, fan-zones, bars… How to follow the matches?

Inside of the foot, outside, high flight of his endless legs to pick a ball in the air, powerful sweep in the feet of the opponent, release of a shoulder blow from his great body, the Manchester player has released the complete panoply which had made him one of the best players of the World Cup 2018. The aggressiveness in addition, unlike a less brilliant entry into the running in 2018 against Australia, at the end of which it had taken Didier Deschamps winding the Pogba clock, which he knows all about.

The coach also took the key out of his pocket at the start of the second half, while the blue boat swayed a little. In two barks, the chef put the player back in the right tempo, triggering this famous gesture of helplessness – arms outstretched and hands falling limply on the thighs – indicating that “ sorry he can’t be the best all the time “. This attitude which is worth the Mancunien some reproaches on his supposed arrogance in England is the sign for the coach that his player is in fact at the best, and able to do even better.

Cloakroom boss

For example to convince his teammates that they too can still give more. Against Germans cornered to make sometimes nasty mistakes, he put on his cloakroom boss’s tunic, as in 2018. His famous harangue at the end of the victorious semi-final against Belgium, intended to convince the friends that they hadn’t won anything yet, again served against Germany. For the benefit of a Kylian Mbappé sometimes discouraged to see his various arrows broken by arbitration. Right on his goal denied and his assist to Karim Benzema, but more questionably after a tackle in the box that was not whistled. When he shows himself as strong in the exercise of recovery from the field as the morale of his partners, Pogba is unique. The only one capable, no doubt, of commanding a Karim Benzema or a Kylian Mbappé to run at full speed… to the rear to come to the aid of the defense.

But what would an uninsured half-back be? If the Mancunian was able to assault so often, it was because he knew he could count on a solid rearguard. We often put forward the magic triangle of the French attack, but it is also on the side of the defensive quartet that it happens. Often called upon by German-style play – large crosses on the side turning into powerful centers – the central hinge did not squeak once. This point of weakness during Euro 2016 gave complete satisfaction. With Pogba as a barker in front and Raphaël Varane as a sentinel, we sometimes say to ourselves – obviously wrongly – that not much can happen to this team.

→ ANALYSIS. Football: France-Germany, these Blues to whom Munich succeeds

Because captain Varane was able to count on world-class lieutenants, world champions in fact. His partner, the discreet Presnel Kimpembe, who is rarely mentioned in the gazettes, made an impeccable and sober copy. In this invisible role of curtain ready to close off all opposing ambitions, he is irreplaceable. As are the two full-backs, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, who played at home on the lawn of the Allianz Arena of their club Bayern Munich. As always the left-hander Hernandez was the most daring in these offensive rides that are required of modern full-backs.

Didier Deschamps: “We gave nothing”

At a press conference at the end of the match, Didier Deschamps first greeted these men. “We didn’t give anything, we defended very well, we need this collective strength, beyond talent, that’s what we have to keep”, he said, adding for the benefit of his supporters: “I know what they can do, I didn’t have to worry. “

The observers either, in view of the performance of these four, well helped by attackers who have never hesitated to come to the hand. Particularly Antoine Griezmann, very discreet in the offensive animation, but excellent in the withdrawal. Saturday, June 19, we will expect more from Barcelona against Hungarians heavily beaten by ultra-defensive Portuguese despite a score (3-0) which does not reflect the physiognomy of the match. This time, the floor will be the front trio, just to open wide the door to the round of 16 already open.



Football: France-Germany, these Blues to whom Munich succeeds

“After I retire, I will come back to live in Bavaria, I feel good there and my family feels good there. ” This cry from the heart of Franck Ribéry, launched in 2019 when leaving to play in Italy and to close a long episode of twelve years in the red jersey, says a lot. Historical enemy of some big French clubs, starting with the Greens of Saint-Etienne, the Bavarian club succeeds very well with French players.

→ BEFORE FRANCE-GERMANY. What Karim Benzema has already changed

Before Franck Ribéry, a real mascot in Germany because of his joker temperament, other big French names had the honors of the local jersey. There was the 1991 Jean-Pierre Papin Golden Ball which carried it for two seasons, in 1995 and 1996. Willy Sagnol and especially Bixente Lizarazu lived there the best years of their club careers.

No city in the world likes blue so much

Today, four Blues play in Munich: Kingsley Coman, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, and Corentin Tolisso. Two of them, Hernandez and Pavard, are solid holders of Didier Deschamps at full-back positions. The other two are never far in the plans of the coach. Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso return regularly during the match and they are neck and neck with the usual members who overshadow them in the usual eleven: Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembelé for the first, Adrien Rabiot for the second.

No club in the world, not even in France, can boast of employing so many Blues, in very different game compartments, defense, midfield and attack. This curiosity is explained first of all for demographic reasons, since France is the world’s second largest exporter of professional players, behind Brazil.

→ PRACTICAL. Euro 2021: what you need to know about the regulations of the European Football Championship

Nine hundred and fifty French people evolve under shirts of foreign clubs, many in the four major championships, England, Italy, Spain. And so Germany, which has always done well for players who have left French training centers, known for their seriousness. This success concerns all the positions, except that of guardian, the French gatekeepers rarely finding a taker abroad anyway.

Bayern Munich, a welcoming club for French recruits

If many French players have broken their teeth in England or Italy, failures are rare in Germany, and particularly at Bayern Munich, which has rarely reserved a bad spell for its French recruits. The French style works wonders across the Rhine and Bayern knows how to receive, offering its recruits all the services they need: villas in the upscale neighborhoods where no one bothers them, membership cards in carefully chosen pubs, large local sedans with club arms, etc.

→ CASE OF CONSCIOUSNESS. Football: does video refereeing respect the spirit of the game?

This Tuesday, June 15, they will be two in the starting XI, Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, while Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman will probably be on the bench. But within earshot to warn friends of the adverse dangers they will perceive better than anyone because they master German.

→ READ. Euro 2021: Christian Eriksen, the Danish victim of cardiac arrest, is better

The Mannschaft drawing largely from the workforce of Bayern for its national team, the Blues will leave with this small strategic and psychological advantage. It’s always better to know how the house opposite works and to be able to decipher the exchanges and instructions circulating in the opposing camp.