For some, a general rehearsal before the World Cup in Qatar, for others, a last stand before a few months of break. This Denmark-France match left no supporter of the Blues indifferent. And many of them made the trip to Copenhagen.
By Julien Duez, in Copenhagen
The Nørrebro Bryghus is packed. From the cellar to the attic, nothing but blue. And behind the counter of this small local brewery located not far from the Queen Louise Bridge, a multitude of craft beers that would delight any lover of fixed-gear bicycles and thick, rectangular framed glasses. “On the other hand, I don’t know if it’s inflation or the desire to make money off the backs of the French, but almost ten euros a pint seems very expensive to me” , plagues Chris, a Belgian expat, while leaving with two glasses of IPA session. What is certain is that to get a free drink, you have to show your credentials at Casa Bleue. Unlike the pre-matches organized in Split and Vienna last June, in Copenhagen, only members of supporters’ clubs can feel the precious sesame. A detail far from spoiling the atmosphere, at least if we are to believe the happy tables of compatriots singing at the top of their voices and sluicing beer after beer before setting off for the stadium, warmly escorted by the Danish police. “Come on guys, it’s the last one before fucking Qatar, we’re going to set it on fire!” » throws a supporter to the alley.
“I don’t think I will watch the World Cup in Qatar. I am very interested in ecological questions and that seems to me to be total nonsense. Like the fact that 6,500 people died on the construction sites, we can’t pretend it didn’t exist. » Pierre, French supporter expatriated in Denmark
The half-hour walk that separates the brewery from Parken is precisely the opportunity to take the temperature. Between controversial World Cup, calls for a boycott from all sides and more and more insistent, internal crisis at the FFF and lackluster sports results, one might think that it is not particularly exciting to be a supporter of the Blues at the ‘actual hour. Or not ? “We are expecting 650 French people in parking today, the places were sold in 24 hours” , rejoices Maxime, referent-supporter at 3F, who specifies that 70% came from France, while the remaining 30% reside in Denmark and its surroundings. This is particularly the case of Pierre, expatriate in Copenhagen for seven years. “It’s the kind of opportunity you don’t want to miss” he smiles under the drizzle that waters the procession busy waving many tricolor flags under the eyes of amused passers-by. “But after that, I don’t think I will watch the World Cup in Qatar. I am very interested in ecological questions and that seems to me to be total nonsense. Like the fact that 6,500 people died on the construction sites, we can’t pretend it didn’t exist. » Does he regret that the Blues did not speak out more concretely in the debate? “It’s not their rolesays Peter. We cannot take them hostage by asking them to boycott a World Cup. If anyone should go in this direction, it is the politicians. I’m not against the fact that they receive large salaries, but that should precisely serve to engage when necessary and not to promote conflicts of interest. »
Everyone has their own choice
Soufyane clearly has it bad. This trip to Denmark is the fifteenth for this member of the Irresistibles Français (IF) since 2014. And the last before six months. “I had already boycotted the playoffs and it is therefore logical that I will boycott the competition, because it is incompatible with my values” , he explains, listing in turn the deaths on construction sites, air-conditioned stadiums and the discriminatory laws of the Qatari government. Before specifying that he speaks in his own name: “The IFs have chosen not to give instructions regarding the follow-up to the World Cup, because it is an apolitical association. To do this, we should have modified certain statutes of the association, but this project was not voted on. I regret it, but as I am a democrat, I side with the choice of the majority. » According to Maxime, the referent-supporters, a massive boycott is definitely not on the agenda: “We had a quota of 3,500 to 5,000 tickets allocated to us for the group stage and they were all sold. On our side, the most difficult thing was to find a place to organize a Casa Bleue on site. Strangely, we found places where it was possible to drink beer, because you really need that for a pre-match, but when we saw the quote, we’re still talking about 150,000 euros for three hours of rental , that put us off a bit… In any case, there will be a lot of people, that’s for sure. And among those who will not come, we must not forget the financial argument which comes into play, it will necessarily change the typology of the fans present. Although some have calculated that it was cheaper to go to Qatar than to Brazil or Russia. »
“It’s still the World Cup! Sometimes I feel like everyone is ganging up on Qatar like it’s North Korea…” Arthur, French supporter
Arthur, he will not be traveling. “Because it’s too expensive” , he lets go. Would he have gone there if his finances allowed him, precisely? ” Sure !he replies without hesitation. It’s still the World Cup! Sometimes I feel like everyone is ganging up on Qatar like it’s North Korea…” For everyone, this winter World will be tinged with frustration. Whether it is because of the portfolio or the values to be defended, it is impossible to take full advantage of it. Pierre agrees, however, that he could waive his boycott if the Blues reached the final. “It may seem paradoxical, like the fact that people are only waking up now, but somewhere, I want to say that it’s better late than never. Maybe after that, we will think differently about all the themes raised by this World Cup. » Soufyane thinks the time is right to allow the winds of change to blow. “Within the FFF, we can no longer continue like this. Already, we learned that there was an omerta about cases of sexual harassment, it is not possible! And, sorry for the term, but our president has gone senile. We do not understand what he is saying, he has speeches completely off the mark. How can we say that racism does not exist in France for example? I really think now is the time for him to leave and make way for whatever happens in Qatar. »
And on the ground? Despite further disappointment, the 650 French supporters offered unfailing support to their team. At the final whistle, some still regret having escaped relegation to Ligue B “to hit up the dep’ in new destinations” , without really knowing if it is a joke or not. On the forecourt of Parken, it’s time for debriefings, sometimes disjointed, surely the fault of the 65 kroner beers served in 75 cl buckets. The opportunity for friendships created in the stands to discuss the themes surrounding their common love: the France team. And, as a symbol, the level of play of the Blues seems to have become completely secondary. “Football is a reflection of society.concludes Joachim, a Franco-Danish supporter who came to attend the family meeting. We continue to support France, even if it does not make us dream. » At least, on the ground.
By Julien Duez, in Copenhagen
All comments collected by JD.
Photos: JD and Iconsport.