Life Style

Football fan, a family affair?

“There, I am breastfeeding my 2 month old baby, so it would be complicated to go to the stadiumsmiles Gabriela. But it is sure that we will return with pleasure, in family. » The young woman and her husband, Arthur, are fans of the Racing Club de Strasbourg (RCS). At 8 years old, Baptiste, the eldest of their five children, remembers all the scores – notified on the refrigerator door – and the names of the scorers of the family’s favorite team.

The breakout of the 1960s

The practice of football and, correlatively, the passion it generates, has long been a family affair. “In the village clubs, a young lover came to see her beloved play on the fieldoutlines Patrick Mignon, sociologist specializing in sports practices. Because there was a possible engagement project, her parents were also coming. »

→ ANALYSIS. Football ultras, a way of life

Many clubs developed and were structured from the interwar period, in medium-sized cities, until a break in the 1960s. The urbanization of France was towards the Parisian poles, Lyons and Marseilles, where the younger generations are exposed to other hobbies. At the same time, the small industrial towns, where the clubs of yesteryear hatched, cannot support the professionalization of the workforce.

At the stadium for the first time

While the sluggish results of the national team did not help to resuscitate the interest of the fans, they returned to support the clubs, whose public was recomposed: more homogeneous, more masculine, without having cut themselves off from their roots. family. “The transmission is done by an uncle, an older brother, the fathernotes Jean-François Pradeau, professor of ancient philosophy at Lyon III and author of a book on… supporterism. An adult takes a 9 or 10 year old to the stadium and something happens – or not. The little one must be fascinated by what is happening around, the music, the songs, to want to relive those moments. It is something passionate. »

→ CHRONICLE. ” Feet “

At the origin of the support for a club, a minimum dose of family “conditioning” therefore seems necessary to create the spark. “We find it nice to support the club of our city and our regionresume Arthur and Gabriela, especially since the stadium is one of the rare places where our children meet people from different social backgrounds, which is fortunate. » The Alsatian family benefits from the policy of a club one of the areas of development of which is welcoming families, as in Germany.

“The crossing of the desert by the RCS, down to the equivalent of the fifth division, allowed it to start again on a healthy basis”, thinks Arthur. Part of the stands can accommodate families with strollers, the Kop’in stand favors the reception of women, including mother-daughter duos… Result: the Meinau is identified as one of the most family-friendly and crowded stadiums in the country.

Saint-Étienne, rating still high

Despite sporting results at half mast, especially compared to the golden period, between 1975 and 1985, the Saint-Étienne club still enjoys a strong appeal. “He exerts a strong influence on our children,” recognizes Jean-Louis, happy that his eldest, aged 10, is following the results of the Greens carefully. “However, we tease each other because he also supports the Paris team, the one who is earning the most at the moment,” resumes the forties.

It is indeed the lot of many teenagers to swear allegiance to the club in vogue at the time when they start to follow football. “My father was 15 when Saint-Étienne reached the European Cup final, I was 10 when, in 1996, I went to the Parc des Princes for the first time.remembers Arnaud, a resident of the Paris region. We had a lot of room for the support of our respective clubs, he was careful not to go to bed to welcome me when I came home after a PSG defeat ”, he remembers.

The supporter, to be distinguished from the “spectator”

The family soil germinates the love of football. But the fan, when his support becomes more and more fervent, very often frees himself from it. Hence the clear distinction between the spectators and the most invested supporters, able to follow their team when it plays outside, to prepare animations and to shout in the stands.

“The rhetoric of the most radical supporters largely highlights the imperative of transmission from father to sonnotes Sébastien Louis (2), historian and sociologist. This speech is to be dismantled, because it is very rare to find families among them. » In the most popular forums, extra-familial sociabilities are formed. “With a few exceptions, after initiation by a family elder, reminiscent of mystery cults, another community is formed with its own rites,” abounds Jean-François Pradeau.

Fervor, an element of spectacle

When the violence is controlled, club leaders are happy with the fervor emanating from their most unconditional supporters. “Olympique de Marseille sells a show and benefits from it”, summarizes Sébastien Louis. An atmosphere likely to attract families to the quieter stands. Provided that they pay the price, because the places easily cost a few tens of euros for a Ligue 1 match.

→ REREAD. Football: the government strengthens security measures against violence in stadiums

Abroad too, prices have often skyrocketed, notes the researcher: “In Italy, the cheapest seats in the Milan derby were close to €50And in England, the working classes have been driven out of the stadiums by the upper middle classes. »

The passion for football is always or almost always born in the family circle. But families are all the more attracted to the stadium as fiery supporters, emancipated from theirs at least for one match, ensure a largely “commodified” atmosphere.


Read about supporterism

♦ In the crowd, by Laurent Mauvignier, Ed. Midnight, 2006

Four duos (brothers, fiancés, friends, etc.) from France, Great Britain, Italy and Belgium converge on the Heysel stadium (Brussels) to watch the European Cup final, May 29, 1985: one of the most disastrous meetings in the history of football, marked by the violence of hooliganism.

♦ The Other Audience of football matches. Sociology of remote supporters of Olympique de Marseille, by Ludovic Lestrelin, Ed. EHESS, 2010.

This sports sociologist, teacher-researcher at the University of Caen Basse-Normandie, drew this remarkable work from his thesis.


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