World Cup 2022: a boycott, really?

More than 12 million viewers watched the French team’s first match against Australia on Tuesday 22 November. Either the best audience of the year for TF1. Enough to give food for thought to the anti-boycott of the World Cup in Qatar, so criticized in terms of human rights and for its ecological nonsense.

However, the figures must be analysed. In 2018, in Russia, the first match of the Blues, again against the Australian Socceroos, had gathered 12.59 million viewers. An equivalent score in number of viewers but much more powerful in market share (69% in 2018, against 48.1% in 2022), the most convincing element of comparison given the different boxes of the two programs and the different broadcast period.

Analyze over the long term

“You have to be careful when comparing slots that are not the same”, recalls in this regard Nicolas Hourcade, sociologist specializing in supporterism. “The 2022 figures are certainly inflated because new comparators come into play, such as people watching matches in bars”, explains the specialist. The measurement of audiences away from home (secondary residence, hotels, bars, airports, train, bus, etc.) was implemented by Médiamétrie in 2020, so the comparison with previous World Cups is biased.

“People can be disgusted by the conditions in which the competition is taking place and will not follow it continuously, but reserve the important matches for themselves. » Thus, according to Nicolas Hourcade, it will be interesting to analyze the figures for the final round, with the knockout matches, to see if a quarter or a semi-final where the Blues do not play corresponds to usual audiences or not.



Handball: the Blue are really on the attack before the semi-final of the World Cup

It becomes a habit. The French handball players are again in the last four of a great competition. After a convincing demonstration against the Swedes in the quarter-finals (31-26), the Blue continued on the momentum of their triumph at the Olympic Games by inviting themselves to the semi-final of the World Cup, against Denmark, on Friday, December 17. They have reached this level for the seventh time in the last eight international competitions they have played. A real success.

→ ANALYSIS. Handball: the Blue want to impose their law on the world championship

It must be said and repeated. So the trainer Olivier Krumbholz takes care of it: “We have to do pedagogy all the time to explain that being there is not obvious. That it is an endlessly renewed, monstrous job, with exceptional girls. “ It was indeed not easy to bounce back from the Olympic title, and a decompression that emptied the team as well as the management. But the collective has been able to draw on its resources to set out again in conquest more beautiful.

Lightning counterattacks

Because on solid foundations, we can rebuild faster. And the basis of the France team is an iron defense, an ability to stifle opposing inclinations. Aptitude verified against Russia to complete the main round (33-28), or against the Swedes, physically affected and put under the snuffer in the second part of the match. To this mastery, the Blue added a new offensive ease. “We have a lot more plasticity in defense than in attack, we are known for that. But we are working tactically to better oil the suits in front, and a click occurred in the middle of the Olympic tournament. The end of the competition was more successful, and we remain in this dynamic at this World Cup. We show more fluidity in attack, on collective movements that we repeat often. “

The players benefit in particular from their physical excellence to offer themselves very fast lifts of the ball. As soon as the latter is recovered, a blue wave unfolds, the ball flies from hand to hand until, in a few seconds, an opening solution is found on the opposing goal. “We paid particular attention to this kind of counter-attack, because we had identified a deficiency in this area during the Games., continues the coach. Now it is a weapon that we have mastered. “

In this register, Grace Zaadi, the “Ambition leader” (dixit Krumbholz) of the band is distinguished by playing the launching pad. At 28, the center-half who has already won everything (the World Cup in 2017, the Euro in 2018 and the Games this summer) is the metronomic hub of the Blue. Imperial in defense, she has been perfectly inspired since the start of the competition to break through the opponent’s safe, also finding, through her precise passes, the pivot Pauletta Foppa. Indispensable, the master at playing? “It’s a small downside: she played a lot”, admits Olivier Krumbholz.

Still a little waste when shooting

No panic though. The bench depth is the other major asset of this team. It is in its ability to rotate the workforce without affecting performance that the team also forges its certainties. The return from injury of Orlane Kanor for example (victim of a ruptured Achilles tendon in April 2021), called at the last minute in the middle of the competition, is timely to bring his science of long range shooting to the Blue. Because if the attacking potential has improved, there is still this waste on shooting, visible in the first half against Sweden.

The lack of gunboats remains a weak point for Les Bleues. “In this area, it is on training that we must focus, on an individual technique no doubt to be better refined among young people, because it is not in the France team that we have the time. to work on shooting, says Olivier Krumbholz. We are focusing on tactical preparation. “

However, it will be necessary to fire everything against the Danes on Friday, past masters in the art of weaving barbed wire (read below). Can the beautiful blue offensive mechanics get stuck? “Against them, if we have a single weak sector, it will not work”, warns Olivier Krumbholz. Condemned to excellence, the Blue. As per usual.


Beware of the Danes

The Blue will meet in the semi-final, Friday December 17 at 5.30 p.m., the Danes against whom they remain on three victories: during the first phase of Euro 2020 (23-20), and in March 2021 in preparation matches at the Tokyo Games to which the Scandinavian team was not invited (26-22 and 24-23). But also drags in the memories of the French this wicked defeat at the 2019 World Cup (18-20) which sealed their traumatic elimination in the first round. Les Bleues know that the debates will be heated, and that they will have to work to overcome a rough defense and especially the two Danish goalkeepers, Sandra Toft and Althea Reinhardt, who have the best save percentages in the competition.



Euro 2021: before France-Switzerland, the Blues not yet really attack

Should we be worried about the relative ineffectiveness of the Blues in attack since the start of this European Championship? Didier Deschamps hardly likes looking in the rearview mirror, but he could still find reasons to be reassured. As a titled player in 1998, he knows that the Blues had hardly been dashing in the first round of the World Cup. And as a crowned coach in 2018, he remembers his offensive wisps going round in circles against Australia, Peru and Denmark. Until this historic eighth-final, ignited by the spark Mbappé, who had rocked a badly handled meeting.

The scenario of this Euro strangely resembles the first acts of the Russian World Cup, except that Act IV of this Monday, June 28 will be played in Bucharest against Switzerland, less feared than Argentina of 2018. Will see -We then finally the Blues score real attacking goals, without relying on two arbitration decisions of penalties, a goal against his camp of Mats Hummels and two magic paws of defensive back Paul Pogba to feed the scorers? This is the question posed by this round of 16 to which the coach and his team were careful not to provide any answers.

→ READ. Euro 2021: the Blues have earned their ticket to Switzerland

Interpreters graduated in Deschamps dialect know that the boss’s silences generally hide intense cogitations. Especially since the subliminal language of the video posted on Sunday morning, 27 on the Federation’s YouTube channel, is eloquent. We hear Didier Deschamps talk about everything except the offensive sector, while images parade behind him where we see him in training surrounding the shoulders of Kylian Mbappé, then talking with Kingsley Coman.

Presnel Kimpembe in support of his Parisian partner Kylian Mbappé

At the last press conference, Saturday June 26, it was the Parisian Presnel Kimpembe who was instructed by the coach to reassure his PSG teammate. “The competition is not over yet. Scoring isn’t going to be a problem for Kylian. He got himself some chances, he didn’t put them to the bottom but it will come ”, he predicted.

Why not believe it? A similar prediction by Antoine Griezmann a few days earlier about Karim Benzema has come true. In addition, the arguments advanced against the number 10 of the France team – his races would have suddenly become predictable, his dribbling would surprise less – do not go the distance. This potential Golden Ball, scarecrow of French and European defenses, has been one of the most scrutinized players in the world for three years. However, the game of the great players is constantly dissected, which does not make them so much less formidable.

Only one goal in nine matches in blue

Still, the statistics offered by UEFA do not lie. Kylian Mbappé did not score, but he also shot very little and received little offside whistle. He has not scored in 382 minutes in blue since his last achievement in the preparation match against Wales and has only found his way to the goal once in his last nine caps.

Will this change against the Swiss? The efficiency of a spark also depends on the content of the gas in which it occurs. The only Mbappé can not explode a defense on his own and his offensive partners were not so flamboyant. Beyond the empty passage of a single, it is therefore the entire device that raises questions. The attack with three flat attackers in the first game, no more than the one with the only Benzema in tip, have so far made a splash. There would be a question of a third solution, this time with Kingsley Coman as a runner-up attacker to reinforce Griezmann to feed the Benzema-Mbappé duo. Answer at 9 p.m. Monday.


Five blue players threatened with suspension

Five yellow cards have been distributed to players of the France team since the start of the Euro: Benjamin Pavard, Antoine Griezmann, Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe and Hugo Lloris. If they are warned against Switzerland, they will miss the possible quarter-final on Friday July 2. The yellow card counter is reset to zero at the end of the quarter-finals.

Switzerland never beyond the eighth. A great football nation until the 1950s, Switzerland then disappeared from the shelves for fifty years. For the past fifteen years, it has been present again and again, but has never passed the round of 16. Neither in the World Cup, nor during a Euro.



Euro 2021: can sport really be politically “neutral”?

By refusing to display the Munich stadium with the rainbow flag on Tuesday 23 June, on the occasion of the Euro meeting between Germany and Hungary, UEFA has stepped up support for the cause. ‘she wanted to keep away from her competition. The Munich municipality wanted with this symbol to denounce the adoption in Hungary of a discriminatory law, sanctioning the fact of “Show homosexuality” to minors. The message, aimed specifically at one country, was brushed aside by self-proclaimed UEFA “Politically and religiously neutral organization”.

→ EXPLANATION. Hungarian gender law turns to European litigation

The head of German diplomacy, Heiko Maas, lamented the “Bad signal” sent by the association. “UEFA got its foot in the carpet a bit, because its refusal decision is also a political decision”, regretted Clément Beaune, French Secretary of State for European Affairs. Under fire from critics, the football organization pays the limits of an illusory claim to “Neutrality”, in an eminently political field.

Suplicate quarrels to “open doors”

“Apolitism is a founding pillar of international sports organizations and associations, it is in their DNA, poses Carole Gomez, research director at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris). Overcoming religious, partisan and political quarrels has allowed them to deploy globally and open doomed doors if they take a stand. “

But if the sports authorities have braced themselves for more than a century on the “Neutrality”, States, practitioners and sponsors use competitions as an unparalleled echoing megaphone. Making UEFA, Fifa and other IOCs the last players neglecting – officially – the political dimension of sport. “To continue to deny it is naive at best, guilty at worst, says researcher Carole Gomez. Organizations find themselves on a ridge line where the slightest claim from a state or an athlete imposes an impossible choice on them. And sometimes force them, under the pretext of apoliticalism, to denounce what they claim elsewhere. “

The Munich standard offers just one umpteenth example of this “Big gap”. Faced with the controversy opened by its decision, UEFA repeats at will its “Commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society”. And adorns, to prove it, her logo with the rainbow that she challenged on the stadium, and still refuses to consider as a “Political symbol”.

Political issues as old as sport

“These organizations have never learned the lessons of history, blows the historian Patrick Clastres, professor at the University of Lausanne, recalling the peak reached at the Olympic Games of 1936, instrumentalized by Hitler. Admittedly, their creation could only be done in an interstitial space, above the contingencies. But continuing to claim neutrality generates a conceptual impasse: at the slightest political recovery, these bodies find themselves naked. “

The political stakes are as old as sport, from hosting a big event to promote a regime to the demands brandished on a lawn filmed in mondiovision. But the growing audiences and the starification of the most famous competitors multiply the resonance offered by the major disciplines.

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

Before the defense of LGBT rights, the Euro football had already caused politically to talk by the knee placed on the ground by certain teams before their match, to denounce discrimination. Or the controversy surrounding the Ukrainian jersey. “We are witnessing an explosion of politicizations in this tournament, confirms Carole Gomez. No doubt because it is the first international competition organized after the health crisis: the presence of supporters, media and viewers crystallizes the issues, interests and tensions. The new format of this Euro can also play a role: its holding in eleven countries multiplies the specificities of the hosts and offers a cocktail that can be explosive. “