World Cup: “Politicians want to be associated with victory, not defeat”


Il is one of the feathers of the round ball. Journalist horse TeamHe is the author of many works Spring 76 (On the Greens) or The fifth Beatles (on George Best), Vincent Duluc, newly published Dictionary of football lovers (Plon). But the person is not only nostalgic for the 1970s, we were spoiled watching the matches of the “greens” in the black and white set; he likes recent technical developments such as statistics retrieval and the abundance of matches on television.

Not everything can be saved in modern football, however, Duluc referees: VAR stifles him, because it forces him to hold his joy, while at the same time the referees check that the “armpit” does not let the goalscorer into the game. A league project that will kill the rest of the indecision in European football.

Point: Michel Platini writes in the foreword of your book that the FIFA World Cup should remain a childhood dream. Is it still the case, especially when the Champions League is a big competition for football and players?

Vincent Duluc: The Champions League is the best in football on a collective level. This competition is the most successful expression of football, because we do not work in the selection, we work in the clubs. The quarters, semi-finals and finals of this competition are higher than what you see in the World Cup. But I don’t think anything matches the pressure and intensity of World Cup matches. Almost anyone can win the Champions League. The World Cup is something else!

We don’t feel the anticipation like in previous releases. It’s like we put Christmas in the middle of August. Is it the season or the host country or just the sheer number of televised matches of the French team that explains it?

I don’t think it’s a lot, because the periodicity remains the same, every four years. There is a rarity to preserve the magic of the World Cup. Players will participate in a maximum of three, with some exceptions. Magic always works for them. But the fact that it happened in winter defies our expectations. Earlier, from the spring, we expected this, discussions about the list of the chosen ones, then the preparatory phase, etc.

Nothing. The French team assembles on November 14 and flies to Qatar on November 15. But it begs the question of what a World Cup might look like with less tired players now that they’re in the middle of the season. . But the children are tired! The mental burden of playing in the Champions League and the fear of injury ahead of the World Cup have worn them down. Maradona retired two months before the competition in 1986!

Does the selection of Qatar as the host country devalue the World Cup?

Playing it takes a little away from the magic, as there has been more discussion about the boycott than the interest of the competition. It’s all messed up, but it’s still the World Cup. They tell us that it was not necessary to be in Qatar? But it is not the football fans who decide this. There were articles during the designation of the host country Team and French Football to say that there is a scandal, but civil society is now waking up. But the fact that Qatar has the largest French club does not bother anyone, no one objects because this country bought so many luxurious hotels and buildings in France, and because it finances so much French culture and museums. I don’t think the workers involved in the construction of the Jean Nouvel museum in Qatar were better paid and better protected than those on the stadium grounds. I recently had a debate with the head of Amnesty International, who was not in favor of a boycott, but rather a compensation fund to move things forward.

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Wasn’t there the same awareness that invaded Crimea four years ago during the World Cup in Russia?

Conscience comes with diplomacy. In 2018, he made the Russians and Putin our friends. There was no downside then. Qatar is different because of the uncertainty of its activities in the region.

We have the impression that often the choice of host country is a problem…

As in the Olympic Games, in the World Cups we were not always going where we shouldn’t have gone. We are with Mussolini in 1934, Hitler in 1936, and Videla in 1978. [en Argentine, NDLR]… Sepp Blatter also had a will [l’ex-président de la Fifa, NDLR] winning the Nobel Peace Prize with the message that football brings people together. The universal nature of football also plays a role. Rugby has no such political problem, as only five countries can host the World Cup, from New Zealand to France via Australia.

Kylian Mbappé wants football to live up to the values ​​he stands for, but he seems to be an exception…

The problem is that we demand clear speech from children. I don’t know if they all have a political conscience, because political conscience is formed over the years, but there is a public conscience. They all work with a fund, they all do great things, they are very much in demand to participate. We want a lot from football because it is capable of so much.

How to explain the inconsistency between the image they reflect and the image of privileged people, which is somewhat far from reality, and what they really are?

Sometimes they make mistakes and the pictures get twisted. This is an example of Franck Ribéry saying “the wheel will turn” or the fact of coming to tap dance in one set. Telefoot. Everyone says to themselves: “Ribery is an ass.” But how do you manage to speak five languages ​​without going to school when you’re a donkey? People don’t realize how adaptable these young people are. They integrate the culture in a few weeks abroad, which is not easy.

Football promotes a culture of protest.

By not selecting players of immigrant origin in certain competitions, has Benzema given in to the “racist part” of France?

No, we cannot say that. True, there was neither a player of North African descent nor an Arab in the Euro-2016 roster. Jamel Debbouze said: “I don’t recognize myself in this French team. In fact, he was not a reflection of French society, but the responsibility of the French team is not to be a reflection of society, but to be a team. Moreover, I find that French sports reflect the intersectionality of French society very well. Rather, it is a place where we can live together. We in French sport live better than work on a Monday morning.

How do you see the evolution of the reputation of the judge? Seeing PSG player Presnel Kimpembe tell the referee “don’t touch me” is a terrible example for young people…

Football promotes a culture of protest, turning it into an element of performance. In principle, if the players do not put pressure on the referee, they are not doing their job. Marco Verratti is constantly arguing because he thinks it’s useful. This is intolerable, we all want to see the same authority as in rugby. The problem is that in rugby the rules apply to five major championships, in football at least two hundred! They should be universal. But it is difficult to apply one rule everywhere.

Doesn’t the fashion of statistics, as well as the dominance of tactical schemes, contribute to the standardization of football?

Unity is indeed affirmed. There are still a few play schools, but they are no longer national schools. Over time, we found out that “Dynamo” Kyiv came from Valery Lobanovsky’s school. As we know the Italians by their game. Today, when we look at Naples, it is not the Italian game that we know. The English don’t play like the English anymore. At the root of this is a mix of players and coaches with a unique perspective on globalization. Then there are modes with games in five backs, fours, threes… The next world champion needs to play in fours for everyone to watch. There is mimicry.

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When it comes to TV offers, shouldn’t we regret that we have gone from scarcity to abundance?

I am happy with abundance! I grew up with six games a year on TV; I’m happy now that I’m playing six games a day. It wasn’t better before. I choose, I follow what I want. I can even watch matches on two or three screens at the same time!

Doesn’t that sound a bit like the Super League project’s idea of ​​a consistently high-profile show?

No, because they only want games with big teams. Therefore, they maintain scarcity. If there is a Barcelona-Juventus match every week, it reduces the interest. It would go against the grain of football, which is disembodied and pyramidal. You can start from the bottom and work your way to the top, that’s the principle and beauty of the sport. With this project, I don’t know who we want to fool. People are attached to their national football, it is their culture. British supporters scuttled the project for these reasons.

What do you think of amateur football with referees, coaches, inter-club violence?

This is even more true after Covid, which has changed social relations. We have gone from virtual violence to real violence. There has been an explosion of post-lockout violence across Europe, in many stadiums and at all levels. Why should amateur football avoid this trend? Plus, despite everything, I can see him running away a bit. In amateur football, there are people who are heroes in the suburbs and rural areas, who do wonderful things. Football can and often does channel tension. Moreover, the president of the French Football Federation, which governs amateur football, is also a professional. I believe that amateurs should regain control within the “federation”.

Between the affairs outside the sport affecting the players and the sex scandals within the Federation, isn’t French football going through a critical moment?

The Federation is having a tough time as we are at the end of the road for Christmas Le Graet [le président de la Fédération française de football, NDLR], is 80 years old. End of an era. Sports Minister [Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, NDLR] He told me recently that these cases are even more embarrassing for the football community because the Federation has actually carried out several operations against sexual violence, equality, racism…

Aren’t you afraid that this World Cup, whatever the outcome for us French, will be in the hands of politicians?

Politicians always calculate in advance. Therefore, Sarkozy sent his ministers Roselyne Bachelot and Rama Yaden to South Africa in 2010. [l’équipe de France était en crise, NDLR]. After receiving coach Raymond Domenech at the Elysee, he told himself that he stinks and won’t go away. Chirac, in 1998, was flawless in his little Blues scarf. Macron was delighted to imitate Usain Bolt’s winning gesture in Russia 2018. Politicians want to be associated with victory, not defeat.


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