Each team calls the other their meilleur ennemi, and their fans shout obsenities that are only common when you have heard them all your life. Football families and clubs reserve huge swaths of seats at the ends of the stadium and are known to be so rowdy, lighting fireworks, chanting, jumping, and swearing, that they are contained inside 12 foot metal walls with spikes at the top, incongruously painted pleasant shades of red or yellow.
At the game of the season tensions were especially high as it was the first time the enemys met since Fabrice FiorÃ¨se, a PSG attacker, had betrayed his team. He moved to OM from PSG on the last day of trading after swearing he was sticking around. This left Paris with no time to replace him after having met his contract demands and thus expecting he would stay. When asked to explain his decision he said, “Paris is a prison.”
They already hated each other, Marseille having a well deserved reputation for cheating, and Paris being accused of being supported by public funds, so it was no surprise when the Marseille fans were forced to collect their tickets 50 kilometers from Paris on a bus, were brought to the stadium through seperate entrances, and kept in a cage. I’m not making this up! They can’t come and go as they like and are forced to stay in the stadium until all the Paris fans have dispersed. When they finally leave, again by bus, and aren’t released until they’ve traveled back the fifty kilometers and are seen as no longer dangerous, or at least not nearby.
Every time he touched the ball the entire stadium shouted, “FiorÃ¨se, FiorÃ¨se, fuck you in the ass!” Police in riot gear protected him from organized groups of fans throwing things at him as he made beautiful corner kicks.
I would have wondered if these fans were really French, they don’t act like any French I know, and yet they proved it again and again. Who else would wear a matching turquoise velour sweatsuit, or a warm-up suit reminicint of the globe trotters in blue satin with white piping only several sizes too small? As the US suffers from a bigger is better complex so french men suffer from a tighter is better dilusion.
A PSG player received a red card with 70 minutes still to play for tackeling FiorÃ¨se with the obvious intention to take him out and yet Paris, playing one man down for most of the game, won for the eighth time in a row. Each time they scored I felt the thick concrete under my feet jump up and down as if it were made of 2 X 4’s on the flat. Unnerving really.
I thought of football as something of a posh sport, at home the fans are people with international connections, who are interested in what happens in Europe, and drink wine. Not so.