In search of emotion, the public returns to French stadiums

Delighted, Hervé Beddeleem wears a broad smile when presenting his attendance figures. “When we look at the figures for the years preceding the health crisis, we realize that we have increased our classic subscriptions and our VIP subscriptions. » To explain such a situation, the executive director of BCM Basket (Gravelines-Dunkerque) believes that the maintenance of certain sports competitions, in times of Covid, has nevertheless allowed the public to “to keep a habit and an intimate attachment to sport, while cinemas were at a standstill and people were getting used to video platforms. »

Since the health crisis, the world of culture continues to suffer from public disaffection. The cinemas are gray, the theaters are empty. In this ambient slump, the world of sport stands out. In the stadiums, the public is back. According to Hervé Beddeleem, the festive spirit of a sporting event coincides with a desire of citizens to get together and celebrate positive things together.

“The return of the public would undoubtedly not have been followed without an adequate sports policy, which made it possible to bring in great players and to obtain results which encourage them to return to the stadium”he explains to justify the action of his club, faced with these new challenges. “We practiced special pricing by not increasing prices. Some were even lowered during the Coupe de France,” he remembers.

Implementation of strategies to reengage the public

This positive example does not reflect the whole of French sport. “The 2021-2022 season, which followed the crisis, was particularly difficult. The habits of the public have changed and add to an obvious problem of purchasing power”, tempers Fabien Roy, financial and administrative director of Fenix ​​Toulouse Handball. “We had as many spectators in total, but with the difference that we had twice as many matches, because of our qualification for the European Cup. That says a lot. »

Since the start of the school year, however, the trend seems encouraging: “We are back to our 2019 load factors, although it is a bit early to celebrate. » To remedy this, the club thought about a marketing strategy advocating the “spectacle stadium” where players make themselves available to the public, to encourage them to come to the stadium.

“Everyone plays the game, the players themselves are not above ground, they understand what is at stake”, explains Fabien Roy. The latter wishes to bet on a healthy collaboration between team sports: “Rugby and football players came to watch the handball matches. It’s up to the behemoths to give us a hand, if only to set an example. »

The most popular sports float

Football, the most popular sport in France, is benefiting from a substantial return of the public to sports venues. During the 2021-2022 season – the first full year after the health crisis – the occupancy rate of Ligue 1 stadiums was 73.9% compared to 73% in 2018-2019 and 71% the previous year, according to figures Professional Football League (LFP) officials. Nearly ten million supporters filled the stands of the various French stadiums last year.

These encouraging figures should not make us forget that, faced with its European competitors, the stands of the French championship are less attractive. In the Premier League, the English football championship, the occupancy rate fluctuates around 92%. In Germany, the rate remains around 95%. Only Spain and Italy seem to have lost spectators in recent years, still ensuring an occupancy rate of over 80%.

“We are going over the figures for 2019”

On the rugby side, while the first figures for the 2022-2023 financial year will soon be revealed, we are pleased with a rediscovered pre-Covid influx. “No doubt taking advantage of the 2023 World Cup effect and the good results of the Blues at the Six Nations Tournament, we see that we have achieved the best attendances in our stadiums for a decade”relates Thibault Brugeron, media manager for the National Rugby League. “This is due in particular to a massive communication campaign, at the end of the health crisis, to encourage people to return to the stadiums. »

Alain Béral, president of the National Basketball League, mentions an attendance rate in the stadiums of more than 80% this year. “We are in the process of going above the figures of 2019.”

For this leader, the aspect ” serial “ offered by the field of sport can explain the reasons for a return to normal. “Apart from obtaining broadcasting rights, which are certainly important, our priority for ten or fifteen years has been to bring people to the stadiums, which explains why our sport is perhaps ahead of others. others in France »testifies the latter.

Sport, a “personal commitment”

The main sports therefore seem to be doing well. For Robin Recours, lecturer at the Faculty of Sports Sciences in Montpellier, this is explained by “the immense catharsis space” offered by sports fields. It can be played “all the dramas of humanity. We can experience, during a match, a gigantic palette of emotions, ranging from laughter to tears, from anxiety to deliverance, from anger to sadness or joy. explains the historian.

Unlike the world of music or the theater, there are also strong personal identifications with the product in the consumption of sporting events. “An amateur basketball player identifies as a basketball player. It is therefore important for him to practice his sport but also to see what is happening on professional grounds. »

“Few shows allow such an identification, such a personal commitment to consumption”, continues Robin Recourse. Moreover, sport remains a space in which consumers often feel expert. “It’s the famous adage: we live in a country of 66 million breeders who have a clear opinion”recalls the historian.

As for stadium occupancy rates, Robin Recours believes that sports federations in France are “Historically amateur federations and have taken a long time to become professional”.“There is a conservatism on the side of sports federations when it comes to marketing the entertainment world”continues the researcher. “So if France is not a sporting country, it’s more because of a lack of resources than a lack of culture. »


Ever bigger speakers

With more than 80,000 seats, the Stade de France remains the largest sports arena in France, ahead of the Vélodrome de Marseille (more than 67,000 seats) and the Groupama Stadium in Lyon (59,000 seats).

England has more imposing structures, with the stadiums of Wembley (90,000 seats) and Old Trafford (nearly 76,000 seats). In Spain, the Camp Nou welcomes more than 99,000 visitors. A record in Europe.

On the occasion of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a new enclosure will see the light of day in the heart of Paris, Porte de la Chapelle. The future 7,800-seat “Adidas Arena” stadium will host badminton and gymnastics events.



Retirement of Gilles Simon: return in five dates on the career of a tennis tactician

The “professor” bows out. French tennis player Gilles Simon, former world number six in the ATP rankings, ended his career on Thursday November 3 after his defeat in the round of 16 of the Paris Bercy Masters against Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime.

With his friends Gaël Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, he was part of the golden generation of French tennis. Due to a less flamboyant style of play than the other three, he remained more in the shadows. However, his analytical skills and his acute sense of tactics earned him the nickname of “professor”.

His career will notably have been crowned by 14 world titles and constant regularity at the highest level for many years. A look back at five milestones in a twenty-year professional tennis career.

2007, first victory in Marseille

Three years after entering the ATP circuit, Gilles Simon won his first title at the Marseille tournament in 2007. During his career, he beat several major players such as the Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the Swede Robin Söderling (first player to knock down Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros in 2009) or Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, Australian Open finalist the previous year.

The year 2007 is thus the year of revelation for the Frenchman, then 23 years old. During the Indian Wells Masters 1000, he lost for the first time a player ranked in the top 10 in the world (Tommy Robredo, 8th). In September, he won his second tournament of the year in Bucharest. These two successes allow him to climb to 29th place in the ATP rankings.

2008, victory over the mythical “Big Three”

The following year is for Gilles Simon that of confirmation. In 2008, he won three titles (Bucharest, Casablanca and Indianapolis). But it is above all the year during which he signs a feat that no other French player has been able to match. During the Canadian Masters, he eliminated world number one Roger Federer. In Madrid a few months later, he saved 17 match points to beat Rafael Nadal. Finally in Shanghai, he won his duel against Novak Djokovic. He is the only Frenchman to be able to boast of having dismissed the three monsters of world tennis.

2011, the greatest achievement

After a season marked by a long absence due to injury, the “professor” made his return to competition and won the Sydney tournament in January. He then chained several defeats in the first rounds and was even forced to retire due to injury during the Queen’s tournament on grass.

However, in July he won the ATP 500 tournament in Hamburg, twenty-five years after the success of Henri Leconte, which will remain the most prestigious title of his career. He eliminates during his career several titled players on several occasions, such as his compatriot Gaël Monfils, the Russian Mikhail Youzhny or the Spaniard Nicolás Almagro. The following years take place in halftone, weighed down in particular by several injuries.

2017, victory with the French team

Five victories for 14 games played in the Davis Cup. Competing in the blue jersey has never worked for Gilles Simon. He nevertheless remains titled in 2017 with the France team, although he was only aligned in the first round of the competition against Japan (victory in singles).

2019, the decline

Despite a lost final at the prestigious Queen’s tournament and participation in all the Masters, the year 2019 marks the beginning of the end of the Frenchman’s career. He regularly fails in the first round of various competitions and leaves the top 30 places in the ATP rankings at the end of the year.

He fell to 63rd place in the rankings in 2020, then to 155th in 2021, the year during which he chained 12 defeats in the first round of the tournaments in which he participated. In early 2022, he announced his retirement from sport at the end of the season.



The return of the thorny issue of violence in stadiums

This is the story of a dialogue of the deaf. Charged last June by the Professional Football League (LFP) to draw up a report on violence between supporters, the criminologist and academic Alain Bauer sees his mission challenged. The man who presented the first recommendations of the report at the end of September, during a press conference, explained that he wanted “reestablish a dialogue with the supporters”. “It’s more about contracts made with the fans, on good terms,” assured the criminologist.

However, Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporters Europe association, claims not to have been contacted by the specialist media. “Unless you consider that a message on LinkedIn, sent the day before the first leaks of the report, is a real contact. We noticed, and it is regrettable, that we were not in the loop. » If he says he had an invitation from the League, Pierre Barthélemy, lawyer for the National Association of Supporters, explains for his part that the latter invited the commission in charge of the investigation to turn to the Instance National Supporter.

A request remained a dead letter, according to the lawyer. “It also makes me laugh when I hear the expression ‘restore dialogue’, because dialogue has existed for years between supporters, clubs and the League”, he believes. Contacted, Alain Bauer says he is prepared, between now and the submission of his final report towards the end of October, to “to continue this dialogue, even with those who have always refused it, by ideology or by trial of intent”.

Get out of collective punishment

And for good reason, a large number of incidents last season contributed to making this subject a priority for the LFP. Example among many others: in November 2021, Dimitri Payet, Olympique de Marseille player, was hit by a bottle of water thrown from the stands by a Lyon supporter. The latter, quickly identified, had been apprehended, tried in immediate appearance and sentenced to a six-month suspended prison sentence and a five-year stadium ban.

A episode ” badly managed “ for Ronan Evain, because if the individual punishment was “adapted”, it should not, according to him, be added to a collective punishment with regard to the Lyon club. A total closed session had been pronounced against Groupama Stadium, in addition to a threat of withdrawal of points in the championship classification. “Was it necessary to punish collectively when individually it had been dealt with, quickly and effectively? », asks the association leader.

“We have to get out of collective sanction. We are against double jeopardy”, rightly replies Alain Bauer. Before qualifying: “We must keep it all the same as the ultimate argument. »

Towards a supporter’s identity card?

Among the recommendations presented prior to the publication of the report, a proposal on ticketing is talking about it: the establishment of a supporter card to access the stadiums. “This may take the form of a ticket holder certification mechanism,” already used during a concert at the Stade de France by singer Ed Sheeran, recalls Alain Bauer. An idea that makes Ronan Evain jump: “They tested it in Poland or Portugal and abandoned it within a few months. Today, it is present in countries like Turkey and Russia, it makes you wonder. »

In addition to the supposed attack on the integrity and privacy of supporters, refuted by Alain Bauer, for whom it is a classic identity document, Ronan Evain warns of an effect “devastating” for stadium attendance: “The first public to flee this kind of procedure is not the ultra supporter but the occasional supporter. Anyone who was about to go to the stadium at the last moment and take advantage of the last tickets on sale will be slowed down by such a device. » An argument here also swept away by Alain Bauer: “Today, you have applications for everything! Some will allow you to take a ticket in three minutes, it is not a nominative control that will slow down the supporter. »

The nominative note also raises doubts: “The initiation of such a device requires a massive recruitment of stewards or police officers, which seems inconceivable”, warns Ronan Evain. And to detail: “Imagine a match at the Parc des Princes, with an average of 47,000 people whose identity must be checked, in an hour and a half. It’s unimaginable. » An opinion supported by Pierre Barthélemy: “For a PSG match, you can have up to 10,000 tourists. With this process, we will not make the stadium attractive. »

A non-existent management policy

The two camps pass the buck, while advocating dialogue. Alain Bauer says he wants to fight against a “generally a priori seeing this report as something punitive”, when supporters’ associations concede that they do not have a miracle solution. For his part, Pierre Barthélemy wishes to recall the facts: “In France, every year, you have between 600 and 800 fan-related problems, when 8 to 12 million people go to the stadiums. And acts of violence represent 30% of these problems. It is not by establishing consensual reports where nothing is learned that this will make progress. Supporters’ associations continue to dialogue, but it is up to the police and the courts to act on criminal behavior. It will never be 30,000 people paying for the behavior of two or three. »

“In France, there is a lack of a real supporter management policy, slice the sociologist Nicolas Hourcade, specialist in football supporterism. You never know who is acting. Is it the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of the Interior? The FFF, the LFP? » He recalls that there are now three different ways to pronounce a stadium ban: an administrative decision from the prefect, a decision from the court, or from the club itself by blocking its ticket office. “This example alone proves the whole hodgepodge surrounding fan management. »

For many, England, which succeeded in eradicating hooliganism in the 1990s, remains the benchmark. The country had put in place a coherent policy, creating new offenses and applying zero tolerance at the individual level, while removing certain collective constraints, in particular the fences around the field, but also by regaining control of certain stands managed independently by supporter groups. The decision was then “coming from above”, recalls Nicolas Hourcade. A necessity, according to him, to define a course and ensure effective prevention.


Doubts about the novelty of the report

A national body. Officially installed on March 8, 2017, the National Support Authority is already in line with the law of May 10, 2016 strengthening dialogue with supporters and the fight against hooliganism.

A questionable choice. Alain Bauer is a French criminology professor. Former leader of Unef-ID, then adviser to Prime Minister Michel Rocard from 1988 to 1990, he was adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy and Manuel Valls on questions of security and terrorism.

Existing decisions. In December 2021, the LFP had implemented several reforms. For example, the clubs had to have anti-projection (safety nets) and anti-intrusion (grids, Plexiglas, barriers, pits) security devices that could be removed and activated on the recommendation of the prefect or the National Division for the Fight against Hooliganism (DNLH). .



C1: Kingsley Coman back in training with Bayern

After three and a half weeks of absence, Kingsley Coman returned to training with Bayern Munich on Monday morning, on the eve of the Champions League match against the Czechs of Plzen (6:45 p.m.), during which he will however be preserved. .

At the start of the session, Coman exchanged a few balls with Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt in particular, before receiving a hug from coach Julian Nagelsmann and applause from his teammates.

“+King+ is fine, he didn’t feel any pain. After the public part of training, he trained individually. For tomorrow, it’s not (possible). (But) we will increase the load and he will be an option for the group in Dortmund” on Saturday in the league, Nagelsmann said.

Victim of a muscle tear in the right thigh in training on Friday September 9 before the reception of Stuttgart, the French international missed the gathering of the Blues in mid-September and the two League of Nations matches against Austria and in Denmark.

His return to collective training at Bayern in the coming days is good news for the France team, seven weeks before the World Cup in Qatar (November 20-December 18).

Julian Nagelsmann said last week that we would have to see when Coman could play again with Bayern, while the Bundesliga shock in Dortmund is scheduled for Saturday (6:30 p.m.), four days after the C1 match.



Serena Williams, the last return

The decor seems ideal. In New York, where she crunched her first Grand Slam title, Serena Williams should bow out after the US Open, which will take place from August 29 to September 11. In early August, the soon-to-be 41-year-old American announced to the magazine vogue that the countdown to when she would turn her back on the world of tennis was ” triggered “, without setting a precise date, and that she would soon concentrate ” on (s)we role of mom » or his “spiritual goals”.

In 1999, the public at the Arthur-Ashe stadium had discovered a new style of play with the teenager, a combination of technique and power. Twenty-three years, 22 more cups lifted in Majors, 14 in doubles and 4 Olympic gold medals later, he will celebrate in the coming days the release of a legend of the little yellow ball.

The draw spared her a seed for her first round, which she will play on the night of Monday to Tuesday August 30 against Montenegrin Danka Kovinic (80th player in the world) thanks to the invitation of the organizers. But the chances of the American lifting a seventh trophy at Flushing Meadows have never looked so slim.

After seeing her lose momentum when she entered the competition at the last Wimbledon Grand Slam for her return to competition after a year’s absence, her supporters are now only dreaming of a breakthrough. in the second week. Forced to store her racquets several times in recent years, due to injuries or pregnancy, the player has logically failed in 413th place in the world. Despite four other Major finals since the birth of her daughter five years ago, the youngest of the Williams sisters has failed to add to her list of achievements.

“Next to Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan. That’s where she is. »

At a length of the absolute record of Margaret Court (24), hers remains, by far, the most substantial of the modern women’s circuit. The player could see coming, she who had never had an equal since taking power in the early 2000s. (It’s here) greatest player of all timerecently reaffirmed his compatriot and former player John McEnroe, at the microphone of ESPN. She placed herself in the pantheon, alongside the (…) Mohamed Ali (Where) Michael Jordan. That’s where she is. She has become the icon of icons. »

An aura continues to surround the champion, although the right-hander is struggling to develop her game, as in her loss to Belinda Bencic in Toronto in early August. “It’s Serena…it’s hard to (…) put all that aside and just focus on the game. I felt like I didn’t know how to play, felt paralyzed.” had testified the Swiss. The 40-year-old has inspired more than a generation of players in the United States, from Sloane Stephens to Naomi Osaka via Coco Gauff, recent finalist at Roland-Garros, not to mention the vocations she has given birth to among men, to the image of Frances Tiafoe, and beyond borders.

“Tennis will lose what society will gain”

“Woman in a Man’s World” », “black in a white world”, the player also draws part of her image from her anti-sexist and anti-racist discourse outside the courts, notes sociologist Béatrice Barbusse, author of the book sexism in sport. Outside the seraglio of tennis after growing up in an underprivileged suburb of Los Angeles, she peppers, in her own way and without vehemence, the always very smooth professional circuit with her positions against wage inequalities. By relying, too, on the legacy left before her by pioneers Althea Gibson and Billie Jean King.

“This anger in the face of injustice and mockery, it motivated her and made her even more pugnaciousexplains Béatrice Barbusse. It is the sportswoman who has fought against clichés with the most intelligence, especially during her poses for the front pages of magazines where without saying a word, she expresses everything, able to dress according to the classic codes of femininity while showing his muscles, shapes and skin color. »

“Serena accepts who she is, abounded last year Patrick Mouratoglou, his French trainer for a decade, in the columns of The Magazine Team.For example, she sings like a foot and that does not prevent her from posting videos of her at the karaoke where she sings completely out of tune. She does not care. Women weren’t allowed to be so confident before her. She opened doors. » Her status as the highest-paid sportswoman of all, like her ability to flow from the media sphere to the world of entrepreneurship, journalist Natasha Henry recently said in an editorial for the Guardianthat“when Serena Williams retires, tennis will lose what society will gain”.


Novak Djokovic forced to forfeit the US Open

Still not vaccinated against Covid-19, Serbian Novak Djokovic did not obtain the waiver which would have authorized him to enter American soil. The triple winner of the US Open, finalist last year, therefore forfeited just days before the last Grand Slam of the season in New York (August 29 to September 11). He had already had to do so at the Australian Open in January – expelled this time from the territory – before being able to line up at Roland-Garros in May, then to win Wimbledon in London at the start of the summer. .



Football: the comeback of Olympique de Marseille

The return of the big nights? The crazy end to the Olympique de Marseille season begins this Thursday, April 28 in Rotterdam (at 8:50 p.m. on M6), against the Dutch from Feyenoord. A semi-final first leg of the Europa Conference League, the “smallest” of the European Cups of course, but a continental meeting all the same. And the only one at this level for a French club this year. Ligue 1 then takes over on Sunday 1er May, with the reception of Lyon. OM’s objective: to maintain a six-point lead over their pursuers to finish well and truly, three championship days later, runner-up to an already crowned PSG.

→ ANALYSIS. Europa League: Villarreal, the triumph of peripheral football

An OM playing for the top on two counts, this had not happened since 2009. The Olympians had been eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Europa League by Chakhtar Donetsk (future winner of the event), by finishing second in Ligue 1 just three points from the Girondins de Bordeaux, at the time still in majesty. Of course, the chronicle retains that Marseille was dolphin of PSG in 2013. But the Phocaeans were then out of the Europa League from the group stage. Conversely, in 2018, they had reached the final in the Europa League, dryly beaten by Atlético Madrid (0-3). But in Ligue 1, stumbling down the home stretch, they had only clinched fifth place.

A president and a coach in phase

This season, Marseille is doing quite well, but without any major setbacks. As if something had finally calmed down, after a long period of instability. Since the takeover of the club in October 2016 by the American magnate Frank McCourt, it is a beginning of balance, fragile but real. Probably because the right people are in the right places. In the forefront of which Pablo Longoria, the president of the club, ex-sports director promoted in February 2021 in place of Jacques-Henri Eyraud.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, with his passion for football and his encyclopedic knowledge of the players, very quickly got involved in a fairly hectic summer transfer window. Even constrained by limited finances, the club has renewed its workforce with a dozen arrivals. Winning bets, like the international Mattéo Guendouzi, the kingpin of the midfield, the Brazilian Gerson, often decisive at the end of the season, or the defender William Saliba, a revelation recently called up to the Blues.

→ REREAD. Football: three European Cups or nothing

Pablo Longoria was also able to find the coach who could set his score to music: the Argentinian Jorge Sampaoli, recruited for his ” philosophy “ game. The most repeated term throughout the season, by leaders and players alike. OM is therefore a style, “the school of positional football”, defines Pablo Longoria. That is to say a game of possession, posed by the Iberian technician Juanma Lillo, assistant to Jorge Sampaoli for a year in Seville (in 2016-2017), and who officiates today alongside the playing master Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

A project built on a game identity

“We are developing a very marked project, with a game identity. There are always moments that will make us doubt our ideas. But we must insist on our principles,” confided Pablo Longoria to The Team in December 2021. And Marseille insists, with often changing tactical plans and sometimes lackluster performances. But the direction imposed, the players follow it without hesitation. “For me, the greatest satisfaction is to see a group that has understood this idea and defends it at each meeting”, also supports Jorge Sampaoli.

Keep the ball, make the play, find the flaw. Supporters appreciate it. The proof in the recent reversal against Nantes at the Vélodrome. A bad start, but a 3-2 victory in the end. “Coward mentality, like Guendouzi”, displayed on a banner the group of supporters Marseille Trop Puissant. They like it, guts on the table, all the way. And Jorge Sampaoli to applaud “this tranquility” which ultimately leads to success.

Champions League goal

If OM manages to deal with a hellish schedule (seven games in twenty-eight days if it reaches the European final), the team can finally fulfill its contract. “Playing the Champions League every year is an obligation. At the end of the season, OM must qualify for this competition,” hammered Frank McCourt at the dawn of this championship year. Ambition goes through this, the club has known this since the start of its owner’s “project”.

The pandemic in 2020 had offered him the place of dolphin by interrupting the championship after 28 days. The following European campaign had been catastrophic (only one victory in six games in the group stage). This season seems to be writing a much more constructed prologue. Like the beginning of a beautiful story.


Supporters allowed to travel

Fans will finally be able to support their team in the Netherlands. Banned from traveling for a few European matches, including those in Basel and Thessaloniki during the last two rounds of the Europa League Conference, they will be between 1,000 and 2,000 to push Dimitri Payet and his teammates to Rotterdam.

On the return, on May 5, the north bend of the Vélodrome stadium will however remain closed, a measure sanctioning the excesses observed during the reception of the Greeks from PAOK in the previous round. It had been considered for a time to open these 6,500 places to children licensed in OM’s partner clubs, but the project was abandoned for lack of sufficient security guarantees.



Tennis: Novak Djokovic back on clay to remove doubts

His return to the courts is particularly scrutinized. Novak Djokovic, world number one in tennis, is preparing to return to clay on Tuesday April 12 from 2:15 p.m. during the Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo, with a participation in the Roland-Garros tournament in his sights, which will take place from May 22 to June 5.

→ THE FACTS. Vaccination: Novak Djokovic ready to “pay the price” for his refusal

The Serb is on a mission after a blank year during which he only played three games at the Dubai tournament in February. Unvaccinated and expelled from Australia following a media and legal soap opera, Novak Djokovic must regain his level of play to return to form in Paris in six weeks. The end of the health pass since March 14 allows him to return to play in France, even without being vaccinated.

A gradual ramp-up

At 35, the lack of rhythm could harm him entering the Monegasque tournament. “I probably won’t be at the top at the start, but I will try to build my game, acknowledged the Serb on Sunday. It will take me time and games to get up to speed and find a competitive game.synonymous with good performance at Roland-Garros.

The world number one also returned to his state of mind when returning to competition. “The last three to four months have been very difficult mentally and emotionally, but I’m trying to put it all behind me,” he told the media. “From day to day, we had to move on, forget what had happened and transform these emotions into positive energy. »

→ PORTRAIT. Tennis: Carlos Alcaraz, in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic is opposed for his entry in the running to the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich (45th in the world). He could face Carlos Alcaraz in his quarter-final in Monte-Carlo, one of the rising stars of tennis who rose from 133rd to 11th place in the ATP rankings in a year. “I miss the competition, I am always very motivated, I want to play against young people, the best in the world, to win the most beautiful titles”, he warned.

Les Tricolores badly off

On Monday evening, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said goodbye to Monte-Carlo. “I won’t come back as a player, but I will definitely come back as a spectator,” he commented after being sharply beaten by Marin Cilic (6-2, 6-2). Jo-Wilfried Tsonga announced a few days ago that he would retire after Roland-Garros.

The draw was generally difficult for the French present in the Principality since Gaël Monfils (22nd) inherited from Hubert Hurkacz (14th), Benoît Paire (49th) from Lorenzo Musetti (82nd), Arthur Rinderknech (58th) from Fabio Fognini (32nd and winner in 2019). Richard Gasquet (86th) will have to go through qualifying.

Ugo Humbert (47th) was eliminated on Tuesday by the Spaniard Pedro Martinez (46th) in two sets (6-4, 7-6).



Rugby: the XV of France at the rendezvous of its history

Fabien Galthié’s men provided the answers everyone expected on the field. By dominating (40-25) New Zealand, the ogre of world rugby, this Saturday, November 20, the XV of France warmed the hearts of the 80,000 spectators of the Stade de France, who had braved the cold to encourage the gang by Antoine Dupont.

→ THE FACTS. Rugby: against the Blacks, the blue spark

Bluffing mastery and freshness, the players perforated the powerful New Zealand machine by incessant thrusts, led by the sparkling Romain Ntamack, conveniently placed in number 10, and Damian Penaud, authors of a test each. The former French coach Jean-Claude Skrela was won over by this France team: she “Stifled the Blacks, who never managed to extricate themselves from the pressing and the intensity”.

A collective force

Puzzled at the end of the first two test matches of the Blues of this fall tour, the former international third row Olivier Magne (90 caps) says himself delighted ” to have seen “This triumphant youth finally exploiting their full potential, playing with great strength of character every opportunity that presented itself to them”.

This collective recital, without false notes, will be a milestone. Olivier Magne does not have enough laudatory words to qualify “This real act of faith on the part of the French, who have displayed an unshakeable belief in their values”. Like him, Jean-Claude Skrela retains the collective strength of this group, in which “Each player wanted to show that he was one of the best”.

In eighty minutes, the golden youth of French rugby erased a good part of the mistakes that had tarnished the victories of this autumn tour against the rough Argentinian Pumas (29-20) and the swift Georgians (41-15). The players themselves shared this slight taste of the unfinished: “I think we are capable of doing much better”, admitted Antoine Dupont, the captain of the Blues, who deplored at the end of the victory against the Argentines too high a number of technical faults of his team.

A thrilling match

Relying on an irreproachable state of mind, particularly noticeable in defense and in the conquest of the ball, they were able to correct their lack of offensive efficiency by inflicting four tries on the All Blacks. In the euphoria of this thrilling match, the game has regained the fluidity that it had recently lacked. As if by magic, the relationship between the forwards and the three-quarters – failing against Georgia – has become evident again.

On the eve of the summit against New Zealand, David Darricarrère, coach of the back lines of Castres, called not to bury too quickly this XV of France under construction: “Its services, not fully completed, are the bearer of a lot of lessons for the staff”, he estimated then, adding: “This group is working for the next World Cup. Faced with tough opponents, who knew our strengths and weaknesses, Fabien Galthié was right to try new associations of players like Jalibert and Ntamack. “

→ PORTRAIT. Rugby: Melvyn Jaminet to reveal the All Blacks

For him, the succession of victories, the emulation aroused by these new combinations, the growing popular enthusiasm around this team give all the reasons to dream. to a bright future ”. Optimism is all the stronger as many young players in the progression phase, such as Louis Carbonel (Toulon), Ethan Dumortier (Lyon), Florent Vanverberghe (Castres), Thomas Lavault (La Rochelle), “Can knock on the door”, underlines this former coach of the Bleuets, who knows better than anyone the extent of the talent of this generation, under-20 world champion in 2018 and 2019.

Restoring the image of rugby

Two years after the entry into office of Fabien Galthié and his staff, the XV of France advances with its face uncovered. At a press conference, at the end of the meeting, the coach no longer hid his ” ambition “ to grab a first world title on the palmares of France.

While waiting for the next deadlines, the success of the XV of France helps to restore the image of rugby, damaged by a succession of tragedies and concussions among young people and in the amateur world. “This French team has become very popular, rejoices Jean-Claude Skrela. Sports stars don’t just belong to football anymore. Children, amateur players, identify with Romain Ntamack or Antoine Dupont. I am sure that at Christmas, at the foot of the tree, there will be rugby shirts this year. “


The flawless women’s XV

A breakthrough, before the next World Cup which will take place in New Zealand, from October 8 to November 12, 2022. After their victory last week in Pau against this country (38-13), the Blue have concluded their tour in Castres fall in the most beautiful way with a second consecutive victory against New Zealand (29-7).

Impactful and aggressive, the young three-quarter-wing Marie-Aurélie Castel (Stade Rennes) signed two of the four French tries while Agathe Sochat and Caroline Drouin took charge of increasing the score against the Black Ferns.

The world hierarchy seems to be in turmoil. This double failure of the reigning world champions comes after their defeats against England (43-12 and 56-15) a few weeks earlier. The Blue, who started this tour by crushing South Africa on November 6 (46-3), are full of confidence.



Euro 2021: England has an appointment with Italy for its first final

England reach the final of “their” Euro against Italy. Deprived of a trophy for half a century, the English dismissed courageous Danes (2-1 after extra time) on Wednesday July 7 in the semifinals in London, capsizing Wembley stadium before facing the Italians on Sunday.

In a very intense match, a questionable penalty transformed into two stages by captain Harry Kane (104th) freed the English, who had been pushed to extra time after a splendid free kick from Mikkel Damsgaard (30th) and an equalizer against his Danish captain Simon Kjaer’s camp (39th).

→ ANALYSIS. At Euro 2021, already a great story for the Danes

Fifty-five years after the English triumph at the World Cup in 1966, the “Three Lions” will play their first Euro final after years of famine and disillusionment.

A remarkable journey in this Euro

“I am so proud of the players. It was an incredible evening, the supporters were incredible all evening “, welcomed England coach Gareth Southgate. Italy “Has really been a very high level team for two years now. (…) It’s a team that plays with a lot of energy and style, it’s difficult to score against them ”, he noted.

→ READ. Euro 2021: Italy arrives in the final by beating Spain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who attended the meeting, highlighted the “Fantastic performance from Gareth Southgate’s team”, who played “With all his heart”, adding on Twitter: “Now the final. Let’s take her home. “ Same satisfaction from the supporters, who celebrated this success by the dozen in the streets of London and Manchester in particular, and in one of the British newspapers, several of whom made a play on words with Final (“Final”) and Finally (” finally “).

This qualification for the final rewards an almost perfect course in this tournament organized in eleven cities of eleven countries, which they will have practically played at home, with the exception of a quarter-final in Rome against Ukraine (4-0 ). It now remains to finish in style on Sunday, at 9 p.m. against Italy.



Cycling: the return of the Women’s Tour gives them wings

While the peloton rolls this Thursday 1er July between Tours and Châteauroux, they sprawl between Vierzon and Le Creusot. The eleven participants in the operation “Give them some to the bike” are one day ahead of the yellow jersey. For the seventh year in a row, these amateur-level cyclists complete the same route as the professionals, on “D-1”, without struggling against the stopwatch.

→ READ. The Tour de France in tire-d’elles

The hike is sporty and militant. It aims to develop and promote women’s cycling, in all its forms. Accompanied every day by representatives of each sex, on all or part of the stage, these Girl Scouts double their journey of 3,400 kilometers of local events. “We work all year round, our visit is a bit the culmination of this work”, explains Aline Clément, engaged in the adventure since 2018.

Towards a return of the women’s Tour de France

Their initial claim, the one that motivated their engagement, was more directly linked to high-level competition: to see a women’s Tour de France finally reborn. After a first edition in 1955, the event existed between 1984 and 1989. Several attempts to relaunch it, under other names, had fizzled out and one final avatar had disappeared in 2009. Since then, the runners were in despair.

→ THE ROUTE. Find the map of the 2021 Tour de France stages

Four leading champions, including the Dutch multi-titled Marianne Vos, even launched a petition on the subject in 2013, denouncing cycling as “One of the worst representatives (of) lack of parity “. The initiative resulted in the creation, in 2014, of “La Course”, a one-day event set up by Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organizing company of the Tour.

ASO ended up going further by announcing, in June, the holding in 2022 of the female counterpart of the Grande Boucle, in eight stages. ” It’s awesome, comments Claire Floret, kingpin of “Donnons des elles au Vélo”. We have been fighting for this equality for six years, and our relationship with ASO has not always been obvious. If they make a commitment, it is because it is viable. It really is a positive message. “

Sports teacher in the Vosges, Aline Clément is also delighted in advance: It’s going to be a great competition. It will be publicized, the participants will become role models for many little girls and women who did not plan to ride a bicycle. It can make them want to get on a bicycle, to go to work, to go to the bakery, to go out on Sunday, to play sports… ”

The competition will be broadcast on television

Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour, paid tribute to the consistency of these sports activists by presenting them for the first time to the public in Brest. “They did not do badly, these young women, he blurted out. They knocked on the door, we haven’t always listened to them. We ended up doing it. They are pugnacious. ” He added he wanted a run ” persistent “, by recalling that the previous versions had stopped for lack of economic balance.

→ ANALYSIS. Women’s sport on the cusp of collective agreements

This new Tour will be televised and the company Zwift, an online cycling platform, will be the title partner, joining historical cycling sponsors such as the FDJ or LCL. Details of the route will be revealed next October. The only certainty: a start given on Sunday July 24 and a finish of the first stage judged on the Champs-Élysées, just before the final sprint of the men on the same Parisian avenue.

The prospect already delights the main interested parties, those who will be able to align themselves. “I look forward to next year”, Dutchwoman Demi Vollering reacted after her victory in the last edition of “La Course”, Saturday June 26 at Landerneau. “It’s great, I hope to be there, it can only improve women’s cycling”, followed the French Lucie Jounier.

“This will economically boost our sport”

The players in women’s professional cycling also expect a lot. “It is a great pleasure to finally have an event worthy of their talent, notes Stephen Delcourt, manager of FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope training. This will create vocations and economically boost our sport. Visibility will allow us to renegotiate our sponsorship contracts and lead to a change in budgets. “

→ READ. The development of cycling can also go through neighborhoods

That of his team reached 1.7 million euros, others approached 3 million, far from the 20 to 40 million deployed by the big teams of the Tour de France. But a movement is underway. Seven World Tour teams, the elite male, have a female section and Cofidis will join them in 2022. Friday July 2, the peloton of “Donnons des elles à Vélo” will be able to tackle the Col de La Colombière with the pride of ‘have contributed, on a scale, to these advances.