In Ligue 1 football, clubs are preparing for an atypical season

For ten years, the seasons have been spinning and look alike in the French championship. Take a locomotive fueled by Qatari petrodollars – Paris Saint-Germain – which logically puts its name on the competition’s prize list, if we except the surprises in Monaco (2017) and Lille (2021). Add to this its share of contenders for runners-up – most often Lyon, Marseille or Monaco –, an unbreakable soft belly and a last car prepared to fight for its maintenance.

The new 2022-2023 fiscal year, which opens on Friday August 5 with the meeting between Lyon and Ajaccio (9 p.m.), could however upset the established order. If PSG will aim for an 11th crown, the Parisians, like the rest of the elite, will have to deal with an unprecedented format where no longer two, or even three, but four teams will be relegated to the lower level. Either the condition of the passage, from the following season, from 20 to 18 clubs in the championship while maintaining two promotions from Ligue 2.

Already adopted in the past – from the post-war period until 1970, then from 1997 to 2002 – this restriction was formalized in December 2021 for a dual purpose. Make the championship more attractive to sell it better when negotiating the next television rights. And allow the French teams to gain in competitiveness to hope to appear better on the European scene. By going from 38 to 34 games played over a season, this will free up four weeks for the big clubs playing the Champions League”retains Patrick Guillou, specialist for BeIN Sports in the German championship, where the 18-club formula has been practiced for a long time.

“Be 100% ready from the first meeting so as not to be left behind”

This new configuration has mainly affected the preparation of teams accustomed to the bottom of the table. With four runs, all teams will try to score as many points as possible as quickly as possible. You will have to be 100% ready from the first meeting so as not toe let go”, explained at a press conference the coach of Reims, Oscar Garcia. “I think that during the season the most disturbed teams will be those in the middle of the table, which could be affected by these four ejection seats”, plans for his part Bruno Irles, the coach of Troyes, expected, with Brest, Clermont or Lorient, among the clubs fighting for their maintenance. In this context, some formations have anticipated their recruitment, as in Angers where seven reinforcements have already joined the workforce.

Should we therefore fear a more padlocked season, where small teams will be tempted to be particularly cautious? “I don’t think the quality of the game is affected. The goal is to be efficient, and the best way to do that is to stay true to what you know how to do,” nuance Bruno Irles, citing the example of the promoted Auxerre and Toulouse, “mounted in Ligue 1 thanks to an attacking profile that they themselves have an interest in not denying”.

Winter break postponed due to Mondial

In this year of the World Cup in Qatar (from November 21 to December 18), usually disputed at the beginning of summer and exceptionally moved to prevent the sweltering heat, the calendar is also turned upside down. Teams qualified for a European Cup will have to negotiate a denser first part of the season, like in the Champions League, where there will be only one week between group stage matches. “It changes the planning. From August until November, there will be a lot of matches, so it will be important to have different player profiles because we will be playing every three days.” estimated the president of Marseille, Pablo Longoria.

The winter break, extended to 45 days, will therefore be brought forward to allow the championship to resume its rights during the end of year celebrations. Most teams will grant two weeks off to players who will not be affected by the event, before embarking on a new phase of fitness. A cut that could lead to “big surprises in the results, judged Nicolas Dyon, former physical trainer from Nice and Rennes, in an interview with West France in June. The teams which do not have internationals, if they work well, will be able to pull out of the game”.



Football: Bordeaux at the start of a decisive season in Ligue 2

From a land presented as infernal a few weeks ago, the second division championship would almost today seem like an oasis in Bordeaux. After the void that their sporting relegation from Ligue 1 to Ligue 2 – a first in 62 years – hinted at at the end of last season, the Girondins came very close to nothingness when the National Management Control Department (DNCG), the financial policeman of French football, had spoken out in favor of their administrative demotion to the lower floor, on June 14. The path to the National, the third division and exit door to the amateur level in France, even seemed traced when the body validated its decision on appeal in early July, following the financial examination of the club.

Promising to fight ” until the end “, Bordeaux President Gérard Lopez then moved his fight to the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF). His position in favor of keeping the club in Ligue 2 was finally followed, on Wednesday July 27, by the executive committee of the French Football Federation (FFF), just three days before the opening of the season.

This emergency rescue, the scapular club owes it to new financial guarantees, deemed sufficient by the city’s commercial court a week earlier. In this model, the Girondins’ creditors, the American investment funds King Street and Fortress, agreed to reduce the club’s debt by at least 50% and an additional 24 million euros were placed in receivership, divided between a capital increase and a guaranteed sale of players during the transfer window. The recent departure of striker Sékou Mara to England for 13 million euros and the percentage affected by Bordeaux on the resale of their former player Jules Koundé from Seville to FC Barcelona last week have already filled this last part.

“Symbolic decision”

“This is excellent news for the club but also a symbolic decision for French football, Bordeaux is part of the sporting heritage, salutes Alain Anziani, the president (PS) of Bordeaux-Métropole, aware that a descent into National would probably have resulted in a bankruptcy filing. By losing its professional status, the club would also have lost several hundred jobs, its training center and its brand image which contributes to the attractiveness of our city. » Last month, the chosen one had given up collecting from the Girondins a rent of 5 million euros for the Matmut Atlantique stadium for this new season.

Other positions from the political sphere were enough to fuel the debate around the draft of this history of the hexagonal championship, founded 140 years ago and six times titled in Ligue 1. High-ranking people in the Federation told me: “If it had been another club, we would follow the rules. But there, it is the Girondins de Bordeaux.” (…) Imagine a guy who fails his baccalaureate. Then who goes to catch up and who misses again. But his dad has a lot of influence and a lot of money, and he gets a third session for his son where the marks he had before will no longer be taken into account. Top experts would be there to upgrade the boy. Then he comes back, and we give him the baccalaureate, “ Philippe Terrier, the president of the Villefranche club, had thus wondered, who could have entered Ligue 2 in place of Bordeaux, questioned by The Team before the verdict of the FFF.

“Reinforced control” this season

The big sigh of relief, shared by the leaders to former players like Alain Giresse or Bixente Lizarazu, via the supporters, does not however suggest a season sheltered from tumults. After having won only a draw during the first day, Saturday July 30, against Valenciennes (0-0), the coach of Bordeaux, David Guion, has also hinted that the immediate rise in the elite was not the goal, especially since the technician will have to deal with a largely overhauled workforce, where the bulk of the degreasing is expected by the end of the transfer window, September 1.

From Tuesday, the club will once again go before the DNCG, which could ban it from recruitment. I don’t think drastic measures will be taken, nuance David Gluzman, banker specializing in financial restructuring. It would be more reasonable to impose on the club a framework for transfer compensation and its payroll. This would encourage him to rebuild a project more rooted in the local area, without forbidding a more planned dose of player trading. » The continuation of a series of meetings which will aim to exercise “reinforced financial control”, recommended by the FFF, throughout this 2022-2023 financial year.


A decade of turbulent finances

In 2009, the Girondins are crowned champions of France. They will even play a lucrative quarter-final of the Champions League the following season, but see their payroll jump. A first deficit is dug.

In 2018the owner M6 sells the club to the American investment fund GACP and King Street.

Bankrupt after King Street divestiture Last yearBordeaux is taken over by the Hispano-Luxembourgish businessman Gérard Lopez, ousted a few months earlier from the head of Lille for indebtedness.



Football: favorable opinion on keeping Girondins de Bordeaux in Ligue 2

The initial sanction pronounced against the Girondins could be considerably reduced. The French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) issued a favorable opinion on Monday July 25 to keep the Girondins de Bordeaux in Ligue 2, which must be confirmed by the executive committee of the French Football Federation (FFF), a-t- we learned from a source close to the club. “It’s a favorable decision, we welcome it. The relief is obvious but it’s not over,” a source close to the club told AFP.

For its part, the FFF plans to convene its “comex” on Wednesday, for a decision rendered the same day, said the body. If the executive committee follows the advice of the CNOSF conciliators, Bordeaux, administratively demoted to the third division, will be officially maintained in L2 and will be able to start its season on Saturday July 30 against Valenciennes. A relief for the club, threatened by relegation from the professional championships.

Commitments honored

On the other hand, if the comex confirms the previous decision of administrative demotion in National taken by the appeal commission of the DNCG (the financial policeman of French football), the club of Gérard Lopez has already announced its intention to file a summary freedom with of the administrative court.

In their conclusions, the CNOSF conciliators “note that all of the commitments (taken by the club) were approved by the Commercial Court of Bordeaux by judgment of July 19, 2022 and that the applicant club was able, during the hearing (from Thursday July 21)remove the remaining doubts and questions with regard to these commitments”.

These commitments related in particular to the waiver of 75% of the debt owed to creditors King Street and Fortress (from 53 million euros to 13.5 million euros) and the sequestration of 24 million euros (including 10 in capital increase) by Jogo Bonito, a holding company of Gérard Lopez.

“The club not only is not in a state of cessation of payments, but has provided elements, documents and evidence of the disposal of the funds necessary to ensure the continuity of operation for the coming sports season”, adds the CNOSF.

The sale on Thursday of promising striker Sekou Mara, transferred to Southampton for 13 million euros, has also healed the fragile finances of the club, which now dreams of winning its race against the clock against sports bodies. For several weeks, the Girondin leaders have been insisting that a demotion to National would sign the death warrant of the club, probably forced, in the long term, to file for bankruptcy which would threaten 300 jobs.



Golf: with the “Saudi league”, tensions on the greens

The case has been brewing for months and has the golf world in turmoil. It materializes from Thursday, June 9 on the side of London, exactly on the course of the Centurion Club of Saint Albans. Forty-eight golfers will take part in a tournament inaugurating the LIV Golf Invitational Series, in other words for its detractors the “Saudi league”. History to emphasize what it is.

In this case, a new circuit of eight meetings this year, with a simplified formula deemed more attractive. The initiative is carried by the former Australian champion Greg Norman, 67, world number one in the 1980s and 1990s, and above all financed by the public investment fund of Saudi Arabia. Who does not mind the expense. A rain of petrodollars sprinkles the greens: more than 23 million euros in prize money at each stage of the new league, more than double the bonuses distributed by the traditional “major” tournaments. Which, all in all, guarantees more than a million euros even to the last of the participants!

A rain of petrodollars

And that’s not all. To obtain the arrival of stars of the discipline, Saudi Arabia did not skimp: more than 125 million euros offered, for example, to Dustin Johnson, current world No. 13 and former winner of the Augusta Masters (in 2020 ). A similar figure is mentioned for the giant Phil Mickelson (45 victories including 6 majors), who confirmed on Twitter on Tuesday June 7 that he would be fine at the start in London, he who had been shunning the courses since the start of the year. What about Tiger Woods? The American was approached, but he reportedly refused a deal ” huge “, “very high nine figures”has just ensured Greg Norman at the washington post.

In total, of the 48 players seduced by the Saudi proposals, around twenty are in the world top 100. The overpowering American circuit, the PGA, but also the European Tour are gray. The PGA has already been threatening applicants with heavy fines and bans on its competitions for weeks. The future should therefore belong to the lawyers, who rub their hands.

“The Saudis invest in golf as in the Rafale”

But what is Saudi Arabia looking for on the green lawn? “Like the other countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia has colossal resources and sees sport as a weaponsummarizes Raphaël Le Magoariec, specialist in the sports policy of the Gulf States at the University of Tours. The Saudis invest in golf as in the Rafale, and, to fit quickly into a sports system in which they are behind in relation to Qatar or Abu Dhabi, they spend lavishly. »

Golf is a target of choice. “It’s easier to get into it than in football for example, where the takeover of a club like Newcastle in 2021 is more complicated because there is a history, a culture that is not easily swallowedcontinues the researcher. There, Saudi Arabia speaks directly to players whose main motivation, assumed, is money. It’s easier. And the economic interest of golf is major: it is the discipline that most interests the business community. »

A showdown with traditional institutions

Traditional institutions precisely want to assert something other than this story of big money. “I have been fighting for years for golf to rid itself of its elitist image, and there, we are still only talking about doughplague Pascal Grizot, the president of the French Golf Federation (FFG). The sums involved are indecent, and players should not forget that they have formed in small tournaments which only exist thanks to the money of the PGA or the European Tour, to multiple actors united and accustomed to working together. Saudi Arabia arrives without respecting the codes. This is bad taste and a serious error. »

The boss of the FFG says to himself ” alongside “ of the PGA and the European Tour, without however sharing the strategy of confrontation that the PGA favors for the time being. “I think we have to talk to the Saudis rather than brandishing sanctionsasks Pascal Grizot. These are people who want to put a lot of money into golf, and we should all be able to sit down around a table to consider the best for our sport rather than competitive circuits where players are scattered and who are not what viewers want. »

However, this is hardly the time for appeasement. The PGA brandishes its stick. On Twitter, Phil Mickelson evokes “a new start on another path”. Greg Norman on his facet side: “We are proud to launch a new era for golf. » Top start then and may the best win… or everyone lose.


New tournaments, new formula

The new circuit, inaugurated in London before stages until October in the United States (five different sites), Thailand (Bangkok) and Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), also intends “to modernize and revitalize professional golf”, according to its promoters. Who propose to dust off the classic formula of the four-day and 72-hole tournament, with a “cut” after two days which eliminates a certain number of participants. The stages of the Saudi LIV Golf concentrate the tournament on three days and 54 holes, without cut, and with departures in “shotgun”, that is to say simultaneous on all the holes of the course.



Football: infernal pace, abstruse issues… The flaws of the League of Nations

Here it is, this League of Nations football. The Blues at the Stade de France, this Friday, June 3 against Denmark, just to draw a line under the fiasco of the Champions League final? The public in any case is expected to be family for an appointment a priori sold out. On the sporting level, the poster is enticing between the defending team and this old Scandinavian acquaintance, whom the Blues will still meet at the World Cup in Qatar.

This type of high-level opposition was the main motivation for UEFA in launching its novelty in 2018. Gone were the friendlies of yesteryear, too dusty for an era that wants great spectacle. After Denmark, the Blues will find Croatia (June 6), Austria (10) and again Croatia (13). Four matches in eleven days, an extremely tight schedule: this is the first drawback of this competition which does not make everyone happy.

Infernal cadences

“It’s the most ridiculous idea in the world of footballcriticizes mid-May Jürgen Klopp, coach of Liverpool. Some have played 70 games in the season, and they still have to do it again! » The Belgian playmaker of Manchester City, Kevin de Bruyne, also deplores the infernal cadences: “For me, the League of Nations is not important. In the year, we barely have three weeks of vacation! But hey, nothing will change anyway. »

On May 26, the international players’ union (Fifpro) published the results of a study carried out at the end of 2021 among 1,055 players. Overwhelming fact: 54% suffered from an injury caused by an overloaded schedule. Fifpro points out the risks to mental health and calls for “urgent reform”.

The League of Nations is certainly not the only one responsible for the saturation of players. But the competition has other flaws, in particular its total illegibility. For the Blues, of course, she came very well last year to console them for the failure of the Euro (elimination in the round of 16). They had obtained two convincing successes against Belgium (3-2), then Spain to clinch the title (2-1). The France team is still aiming for a qualification for the last four in June 2023. But for other nations, the stakes are lower.

A “transatlantic” League under study

Above all, it remains incomprehensible to the general public. Who knows that the League of Nations offers two qualifying places for the World Cup, at the end of a convoluted process? After qualifying for the European zone, two unsuccessful nations are fished out, those with the best overall ranking in the previous League of Nations. As for the four places giving access to the next Euro, the path is even more tortuous with chained play-off matches. In both cases, it is abstruse to say the least.

Revise the formula? Some think about it, but to eliminate a third disadvantage of the competition: the European teams hardly meet those of the other continents anymore. Argentina have certainly just beaten Italy 3-0 on Wednesday 1er June in a resurrected Intercontinental Nations Cup, but they had not met European teams since Germany in October 2019 (2-2). For Brazil, the last clash dates back to March 2019 (3-1 in the Czech Republic).

The President of the South American Confederation (Conmebol), Alejandro Dominguez, has just announced the study in 2023 of a League of Nations “transatlantic”. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin commented on a “complicated exercise”, but without closing the door. And for good reason. UEFA and Conmebol are now walking hand in hand to counter FIFA’s biennial World Cup project.

The two bodies, which opened a joint office in London in April, are in a “strategic alliance”, according to Aleksander Ceferin. An enlarged League of Nations rather than a biannual World Cup? Question gas plant, the leaders of football are always full of imagination.


A “normal” game

The meeting with Denmark this Friday, June 3 at the Stade de France should be no exception to the rule for a match of the Blues at home: a family audience, well-filled stands and no incidents. The authorities have certainly mentioned a security device “reinforced” after the troubles of the Champions League final, but without further details. To get to the site, despite a strike call maintained by the unions on the RER B, traffic will be “almost normal” according to the RATP.



Champions League: Gérald Darmanin tries to extinguish the controversy on TF1 news

A “fiasco”. This is the word that comes up the most to qualify the Champions League final on Sunday May 29, which pitted Real Madrid against English club Liverpool in Paris. The match started more than thirty minutes late as young spectators without tickets climbed the gates of the Stade de France enclosure to try to enter. The police tried to repel them, in particular with the help of tear gas. Gérald Darmanin spoke on TF1’s “20 heures” to try to contain the controversy.

→ ANALYSIS. After the Stade de France fiasco, the authorities’ strategy called into question

The Minister of the Interior stuck to the line he had taken so far: he blamed the English supporters, who he believed to be guilty of a “massive, industrial and organized fraud of counterfeit banknotes”. On the tray of the newspaper, he even drew two tickets, one real and the other fake, to show how difficult it was to distinguish them.

70% counterfeit notes, according to Darmanin

“Of the people checked, 70% had counterfeit notes”, he asserted. He also said that only Liverpool supporters were affected by these frauds. According to the Minister, it is these counterfeiting problems that have generated “a very important stopper”, and only the intervention of the police could prevent a ” drama “ to occur. Gérald Darmanin therefore defended the decisions taken on Sunday evening, even if he conceded that the techniques used by the police were “hard to see on television”.

However, the Minister of the Interior admitted that in some cases the use of force was not “not proportionate”. He indicated that he was ready to contact the victims to apologize.

False information about “delinquents”

Gérald Darmanin also wanted to come back to the “offences” denounced, and in particular the presence of pickpockets around the Stade de France. “There were 100 arrests, but a lot of nonsense was said, with harsh insults against the inhabitants of Seine-Saint-Denis”, he said, clarifying that claims that the alleged culprits were undocumented people were “false”. “The far right must not use this event for its nauseating campaign”, he asserted.

→ REREAD. Champions League: Darmanin defends the police, the rest of the world denounces his action

In order to overcome this problem for future sporting events, Gérald Darmanin expressed his wish that tickets would now be “tamper-proof”, and so “digital”. For its part, UEFA announced the opening of an independent investigation into the events.



Champions League in Paris: ominous incidents before the Olympics?

“I just had one of the worst experiences of my life. Terrible security and organization, putting lives at risk. » Like thousands of British supporters, Liverpool MP Ian Byrne did not mince his words on the evening of Saturday May 28, after entering the Stade de France for the Champions League final between the club from this city. British at Real Madrid. Rarely, the kick-off was given 36 minutes late and some of the supporters missed a whole half. But what happened?

Gérald Darmanin, the Paris police headquarters and UEFA point the finger at the responsibility for “thousands” holders of counterfeit tickets who would have blocked access to the stadium at the level of the turnstiles, before people managed to climb the gates to enter its enclosure. “Colleagues say they have never seen this. They received bursts of supporters who tried to force their way through. There were plenty of staff, but they were overwhelmed. The time to wait for reinforcements and to be able to repel people, it was necessary to calm the anger, “ says Josias Claude, representative of the SGP-Police unit union in Paris.

→ READ. Champions League in Paris: the prefect of police takes legal action for “massive counterfeit ticket fraud”

The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Images that moved abroad and which the opposition quickly seized in France. In total, the Ministry of the Interior counts 105 arrests. More than 200 minor injuries were counted by firefighters throughout the evening. The Paris police chief, Didier Lallement, has decided to take legal action for a “massive counterfeit fraud”.

Dangerous bottlenecks according to supporters

The authorities’ version did not convince the supporters, who described long waits outside the stadium and dangerous bottlenecks where the crowd massed, resulting in a cacophony. “The supporters are not responsible for this fiasco”, defends the association Football Supporters Europe. Merseyside-Liverpool Police, whose officers were present, certified on Sunday May 29 that “the vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner and arrived early”. The Liverpool club is asking for an investigation. The audit announced by UEFA should shed light on the events.

A police source and a Spanish supporter speak, in addition, of snatching in large numbers around the stadium, especially at the end of the match. They describe a largely unsuitable police system. The match was originally scheduled to be played in Russia, but was relocated in late February as a sanction against the invasion in Ukraine. The organizers and the authorities therefore only had three months to think about the device, against more than a year and a half in normal times.

Bad image for France which hosts the Olympics in 2024

With the approach of the Rugby World Cup, spread over nine stadiums at the start of the 2023 school year, then the Olympic Games in Paris, in two years, this is an event that goes badly. Especially since the Ministry of the Interior said, three days earlier, that it was particularly concerned about the image of France during these international meetings. The new Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castera, must manage her first crisis, and brings together this Monday, May 30 in the morning the organizers of the Champions League final, the police and the local authorities to “learn lessons” and “defining very precisely the dysfunctions”.

On Twitter, MEP Nathalie Loiseau, former Minister for European Affairs under the last five-year term, sees it as proof that “we are not ready for the Olympic Games”. While the socialist senator from the North Patrick Kanner judges France “capable of managing security and crowd movements”. On condition, he declares to The cross, “that the government understands that what happened is not anecdotal”.

“The image of France has been tarnished”, continues the senator who was minister responsible for sports during the Euro 2016 football championship, whose framework, designed in a post-attack context, had not fueled the trials in unpreparedness. Incidents had certainly broken out in the streets of Marseille, but linked “structural hooliganism” Russian and English supporters. The Minister had moreover obtained the attribution of the Rugby World Cup in an unexpected way, thanks to the “French safety record”.

“As for rugby, the public who will attend the Olympics will not be the same as that of Saturday”, sweeps aside François Cormier-Bouligeon, LREM deputy for Cher. The president of the study group dedicated to sport at the Assembly specifies that the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games has been working on it since 2017.


No incidents in the fan-zones

Of the 70,000 Britons expected in the capital, Only 20,000 had been able to obtain their ticket for the Stade de France. UEFA allocates quotas to the two finalists and reserves a third of the 75,000 seats for its commercial partners and broadcasters, in particular.

To watch the game on a giant screen, the English supporters without tickets therefore partly massed in a fan-zone of 12e district of Paris, where the authorities did not count any incidents, but where the ground was strewn with abandoned rubbish.

people from Madrid, less numerous, were welcomed in a fan-zone in Saint-Denis.



Football: Saint-Étienne plunges into Ligue 2 in great chaos

A fatal penalty shootout, an invasion of the field with fire from smoke bombs and scuffles outside its Geoffroy-Guichard stadium: Saint-Étienne, beaten 1 to 1 (5-4 on penalties) by Auxerre on Sunday 29 May, bid farewell to Ligue 1 in the greatest chaos.

→ READ. Champions League in Paris: ominous incidents before the Olympics?

As soon as the last successful shot on goal by the Auxerrois Birama Touré, synonymous with victory for the Burgundians who returned to Ligue 1 after ten years of absence, the field was invaded by thousands of angry supporters. Some sent pyrotechnic devices towards the official platform protected by the police.

“These incidents are very sad”

The Saint-Etienne players, surrounded by the stewards, immediately rushed, like the other players in the match, to the locker room. “After the match, I freaked out because I took tear gas canisters, like my players”commented the coach of Auxerre, Jean-Marc Furlan. “We counted ourselves to find out if there were any missing. These incidents are very sad. »

The security forces also entered the field and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, while panic movements shook the stands. And the clashes continued outside the stadium, requiring the use of tear gas and a water-throwing device, the prefecture said, adding that the unrest had ceased at 11:15 p.m.

According to the Loire prefecture, two Auxerre players were slightly injured in the scuffles and the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium is again at risk of serious sanctions even though it is on probation because it is a repeat offender of this kind of incident.

Next club sale

The balance sheet stands at 14 minor injuries among the police and 17 among the supporters, “Three of whom were taken to hospital for check-ups”according to the prefect of the Loire Catherine Séguin who condemns “these unacceptable, irresponsible and unworthy acts”. According to her, the 1,154 Auxerre supporters and then the players were able to leave the stadium from midnight under police escort.

→ REREAD. Champions League: chaos around the Stade de France

Relegation punishes a calamitous season for Saint-Étienne, who had snatched the right to play in the play-offs in extremis after a draw in Nantes (1-1) on the 38th and last day of the championship. A statement from shareholders announced the upcoming sale of the club. Roland Romeyer and Bernard Caïazzo promise “an important news concerning the future of the club and ours”adding that“an essential page of our life will turn”. In the greatest confusion.



Football: in Paris, an English wave for the Champions League final

The Parisians have already begun to see them arrive under their windows, the day before the match. Tens of thousands of Real Madrid and Liverpool FC supporters are expected in the capital to attend, on Saturday May 28 from 9 p.m., the final of the Football Champions League, opposing the Spanish club to their English adversary at Stade de France, in Saint-Denis. While the Ministry of the Interior fears overflows, “6,800 police and soldiers are mobilized”, according to the police headquarters.

Law enforcement will be engaged on two fronts. On the one hand, they will have to accompany the flow of these men and women who have come to encourage their team in the sports arena, each camp having been entitled to 20,000 places in the stands which can hold 80,000 people. On the other, the security services will supervise the crowd of supporters without tickets, mainly English. And many of them will proudly wear the red jersey of the most popular club in the country.

→ REREAD. Gerry Marsden, death of a Liverpool rocker

According to the Ministry of the Interior, there could be 40,000 in this case, motivated by the hope of buying sesame on the black market or, above all, of spending a good evening in France following the match on a screen, a beer in hand. This massive displacement does not surprise sociologist John Williams, professor at the University of Leicester. ” I’m part oflaughs this academic, football specialist, who is also a supporter of Liverpool. If you have a ticket, I’m interested. »

“It’s a real cultural fact”

Seen from France, this type of behavior may surprise. Not England, let alone Liverpool. “It’s a real cultural fact,linked to the very long history of English football and the stability of the clubs, notes sociologist Patrick Mignon, who hosts his colleague. We move, we travel, it’s an experience. It is transmitted from generation to generation and it is not only young people. You also have fathers and sixties like John. But it’s not just for Brits. We also see this phenomenon in the Netherlands and Germany. »

Like his compatriots without tickets, John Williams will go to the “fan-zone”, a space specially designed for Liverpool supporters in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. Surrounded by a “protection perimeter”, the venues have been designed to accommodate up to 44,000 people, with entertainment and a giant screen. They will be open from the beginning of the afternoon. “It will be possible to eat and drink”, specifies the prefecture.

“UEFA does not give enough tickets to fans”

Similarly, Scottish supporters of Glasgow Rangers and German Eintracht Frankfurt had surged towards Seville during the recent Europa League final. “It’s another way of experiencing the final, notes the English sociologist. You can experience being abroad among the fans, enjoying the atmosphere before the game and celebrating the success of the club. Even being there in Paris is more exciting than watching the match at home. It is also a way of protesting against UEFA, which does not give enough tickets to fans…”

→ STORY. Football: from bankruptcy to the elite, the rebirth of Glasgow Rangers

He also fears more attempts to break into the stadium than fights in the streets. ‘Liverpool fans don’t have a reputation for being hooligans’ he recalls. Scarred by the tragedies of Heysel (39 dead in 1985) and Hillsborough (97 dead in 1989), the club has paid dearly for the violence of part of its public in the past. Since then, as in the rest of England, a mixture of repression and consultation, added to the increase in ticket prices, has restored calm. “There has been a lot of work done, with a desire to transform the image of the city and the supporters”, continues Patrick Mignon.

→ REREAD. Football: how the Premier League is trying to eradicate violence

Real Madrid supporters are invited to go to a more modest fan zone, which will be able to accommodate 6,000 of them, in Saint-Denis. But the area around the Champs-Élysées will be closed to fans of both teams until Sunday May 29 at 6 p.m. The sale and consumption of alcohol will also be prohibited near the Stade de France. But not inside.



E-sport: the incredible popularity of the French league of “League of Legends”

“Karmine! Karmine! Karmine! “ They are around a thousand people gathered at the Carrousel du Louvre this Saturday, January 8, to await the arrival of their team. An “ola” is launched, then the songs resume: “Let’s go Karmine, let’s go Karmine”. When the players make their entrance, shortly after 9 p.m., the commentators have to wait a good two minutes before they can speak again, so many fans are screaming.

→ EXPLANATION. “E-sport”, a mass phenomenon

The event? A gala match between two professional online video game teams League of Legends, (LoL), one Spanish, the KOI, the other French, the Karmine Corp or KCorp. The most prominent team in the French league (LFL), KCorp offers a demonstration of its popularity four days before the resumption of the championship, Wednesday, January 12. At the height of the evening, 375,000 people were following the match from their homes via the Twitch streaming platform. Figures which confirm the growing attraction, in France, of the public for e-sport in general and for this game in particular.

Attract new and old viewers

Launched in 2019 and produced by Webedia, a company specializing in the production of online content, the LFL recorded in 2020 an average of 10,000 viewers per game. A year later, that average hovers around 40,000, peaking at over 180,000 viewers in some matches.

KCorp’s eruption into the LFL in 2021 seems to have played a big part in this growing success. “This team is supported by two influencers, Kameto and Prime. They already had a lot of fans who didn’t necessarily know League of Legends but who started to be interested in it, explains Nicolas Besombes, sociologist and vice-president of the France Esports association. KCorp has even achieved the feat, in its first year, of winning twice the European competition, the European Master, equivalent of the Champions League in football. A spotlight on the French e-sport scene.

→ REPORT. Esports in search of recognition in Japan

The year 2021 also marks the arrival of a new player in the French esports ecosystem: One Trick Production (OTP). A production company founded by two commentators well known to the French-speaking public: Fabien “Chips” Culié and Charles “Noi” Lapassat. “Over the past decade, a lot of people have watched League of Legends esports competitions in France. But people watched for a while and then moved on ”, launches Chips. Unmissable actors of the French scene of LoL, they launched OTP accompanied by other recognized figures and won the broadcasting rights for the LFL. The success is immediate. “I would say that the launch of OTP has re-mobilized an audience that had stopped watching the competitions”, he continues.

A French Cup of “LoL”

The Covid-19 pandemic has also been there. During the various confinements, while sports competitions are more or less at a standstill, the Twitch streaming platform records its highest audience ratings. “Many people have discovered League of Legends, or even other video games at that time, says Bertrand Amar, e-sport director of Webedia, and even after the lockdowns, people kept watching as audiences continued to mount. “

The LFL also finds its account there, because until now the matches were played, commented and watched online, except for the tournaments at the end of the season. An advantage over other sports, which were forced first to stop competing and then to set up gauges. “But this year we have decided to organize several physical events so that the fans and the teams can meet at regular intervals”, details Bertrand Amar. As a producer of the LFL, Webedia seeks to offer events to continue to appeal to new audiences. Latest announcement, the launch of a Coupe de France de League of Legends which will bring together teams from the LFL, Division 2 and the amateur circuit.


The “League of Legend” phenomenon in figures

League of Legend is an online multiplayer game released in 2009. It brought together 180 million active players in October 2021, according to its American publisher Riot Games.

The French league of LoL, theLFL, exists since 2019 and has ten teams. During matches, two teams of five players compete in order to destroy the opposing base. Each game lasts between twenty-five and forty minutes.

An LFL season is divided into two segments, one taking place in the spring and another in the summer, between which the European competition is inserted. At the end of both segments, the top three averaged teams compete in a tournament to determine the season winner.