A historic group of FC Nantes supporters, the Brigade Loire has announced that it will not travel to Israel to support its club during the Champions Trophy this Sunday against PSG. While the LFP has once again relocated its supercup to the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv to promote Ligue 1 abroad, the people of Nantes intend to express their disagreement with a mercantile vision which would suggest that the treatment of supporters in France would be secondary . Interview with Romain Gaudin, the capo accustomed to making Beaujoire roar.
Quite simply because it is a match which should take place in France. It’s as if we were playing a Coupe de France final or a league match abroad for commercial reasons. Since 2009, the LFP has played this match in ten countries under the pretext of selling our Ligue 1 to a new audience. It is not acceptable when at the same time, the authorities are waging war on us, the supporters, with declarations and measures to keep us away from the stadiums. Freeing up the most fervent public – which would nevertheless be a real added value for our championship – to seek out versatile consumers who don’t care, it’s quite cynical on the part of the League. By this press release we wanted to explain the reasons for our absence clearly because most of the ultra French groups concerned by these relocations are in general agreement but have not done so in the past.
—Stew (@Steven4413) July 22, 2022
Have you heard from Collectif Ultras Paris since your press release?
No, no news but last year, they had already not moved for the Champions Trophy in Tel Aviv [défaite 1-0 du PSG contre Lille, NDLR]. Only, there had been no official speech to denounce all this.
How much did the fact that it was in Israel, where there are many political symbols, influence your decision?
It would have been exactly the same if the match had taken place in China, the United States or Gabon. For us, there was no difference. Some media picked up on our statement implying that we were boycotting especially because it was Israel. It made the pro-Palestinians happy and we were called anti-Semites… But no, there was no such ulterior motive behind our decision.
“When we see the trouble they go to to crush us, it poses a problem for us to see the League lean towards countries which have nothing to give a damn about our French football. »
In your press release, you say that the supporters are considered as “undesirable or even expelled from the stadiums” . Have you felt a concrete deterioration in the supervision conditions in the stadiums and on travel from the Covid?
The return to the stadium after Covid has been hot. The prefecture had gone to great lengths to impress us. We found ourselves face to face with the Rapid Intervention Section (SIR) which surely wondered where the 3000 unleashed people were that it was to accommodate. We have the impression that they imagine us with a whole commando… In the end, they played their role so we didn’t let ourselves face these pressures. But it’s always the same with the question of supporters. They put more energy into trying to break our balls than into creating a dialogue to reduce tensions. When we see the trouble we are taking in France to crush us, it poses a problem for us to see the League lean towards countries which have nothing to give a damn about our French football. We have the feeling all year round to fight to do what we love the most, which is to liven up the stadiums. Everything is always very complicated: there is little communication, and I’m not even talking about the sketch for the Coupe de France in Saint-Denis.
What had happened?
Let’s say that given the organization of our final, we were not surprised when we saw what happened for that of the Champions League. We had to manage on our own. For weeks, we asked how we could set up a procession of 10,000 Nantes residents because it is something that is managed with the public authorities. But we got no response from our various interlocutors. So, we took the lead and announced our procession without any agreement. Obviously they took note of the thing but when we showed up, the town hall of Saint-Denis hardly seemed to have been informed. It was a nameless brothel. Honestly given the lack of organization, if we had wanted it to go to hell as they sometimes claim, it would have been very simple. The police, the public authorities, everyone was overwhelmed.
“In France, Dijonnais are banned from Auxerre or Rémois from Troyes. I think that tomorrow if there are 6,000 people traveling for a Ligue 2 match, it’s on the front page of the 8 p.m. newscast, it’s so unlikely. »
To come back to the Champions Trophy, you denounce a mercantile vision of football advocated by the League. What would it take to restore the football you are fighting for?
Already, the Champions Trophy should be brought back to France. Then, the general philosophy should be changed. In today’s football, you have to make money. But at some point, it’s also to give pleasure to people who subscribe every year. When we compare with other countries, we have the feeling that elsewhere, there is a real desire to attract people to the stadium. In Germany for example, 6000 guys from Rostock made the trip to Hamburg in the second division last week. There is a world of difference. In France, Dijonnais are banned from Auxerre or Rémois from Troyes. I think that tomorrow if there are 6,000 people traveling for a Ligue 2 match, it’s on the front page of the 8 p.m. newscast, it’s so unlikely.
This season, you are playing the Europa League with potentially trips to Israel, Azerbaijan or Turkey. Could you boycott these trips as well?
Going to see a European Cup match abroad, no problem, it’s completely logical. We will not boycott. Whether in Israel or elsewhere. Wherever we can go in the European Cup, we will go.
Are you still going to watch the Champions Trophy against Paris this Sunday?
We’ll look at that between us of course. We are used to meeting when we are banned from traveling. But quite frankly, the fact that it is relocated does not encourage enthusiasm. In Nantes, there are no particular expectations for this match.
Interview by Gabriel Joly