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LIBRI e HEYSEL 2007   Sala della Memoria Heysel   Museo Virtuale Multimediale
Dans la foule Laurent Mauvignier 2007
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Jeff et Tonino venus de France, Geoff et ses frères de Grande-Bretagne, Tana et Francesco qui viennent de se marier en Italie, mais aussi Gabriel et Virginie à Bruxelles, tous seront au rendez-vous du " match du siècle " : la finale de la coupe d'Europe des champions qui va se jouer au stade du Heysel, ce 29 mai 1985. La jalousie, le vol des billets, l'insouciance d'une lune de miel : plus rien n'aura d'importance après le désastre. Excepté de retrouver Tana. Fonte: Dans la Foule © Laurent Mauvignier © Editions de Minuit 2007 Fotografie: Editions de Minuit © Laurent Mauvignier © Icona: ©


One night in Belgium

by Andrew Hussey

For many years now, the French have produced some of the best football writing in the world. L'Equipe and magazines such as France Football and So Foot are not only distinguished by their incisive approach to the game but, like the French national team at its best, combine intelligence with flair and flamboyance. There is, too, a thriving underground culture of blogs and fanzines, testimony not only to the French love of football but also to the crucial role it plays in the national psyche. But there has never been any tradition in France of serious book-length writing on what is effectively, just as it is in England, the national game. Equivalents of Nick Hornby and David Peace do not exist in France and there is a prejudice against football fans in the middle-class French imagination. This makes it all the more startling that two of the most successful and provocative books recently published in Paris have football-related themes. The first of these is La Mélancolie de Zidane, a treatise on the great France World Cup captain by the Belgian writer and film-maker Jean-Philippe Toussaint (see panel). More intriguing still is Dans La Foule, a gripping 400-page fictional account of the Heysel tragedy of 1985, when 39 fans were killed at the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus. The Tours-born author describes this match as his 'September 11th moment'. The story centres on four separate groups of supporters drawn together in the terrible massacre on the terraces in Brussels. These are the French fans Jeff and Tonino; the Liverpool fan Geoff and his brothers; a young Italian married couple called Tania and Francesco; and the Belgians Gabriel and Virginie. They first come together on the eve of the match, drinking beer and swapping banter. On the day of the final they become lost in the crowd, in the confusion, the cries of hate and pain. They come together again in the hospital, where they are treated for shock and injuries. This is when Tania realises that Francesco is missing, probably dead. There is a slyly disingenuous but utterly convincing confession from Geoff, which reminds the reader of nothing so much as Meursault's final speech in Albert Camus's L'Etranger.

Mauvignier's technique is impressive. The novel has a polyphonic structure that allows each character to take the lead in the appropriate chapter. This can be disorientating - just like being in a real crowd - but it is an effective and ultimately shattering device that takes the novel beyond mere reportage and into the more troubling and sinister terrain of the minds of those who led the fighting at Heysel. As a Liverpool fan myself, and one who like many others watched events unfold that terrible night with a mixture of dread and exhilaration, I was alert to the novelist's tendency to simplify and demonise football fans. Geoff emerges, however, as an intelligent and fully nuanced character whose real crime is to belong to a tribe, a crowd, and to love the loss of self-consciousness that this entails. All football fans know that this is a fundamental part of who they are and why they watch the game. French intellectuals have not always scorned football: the cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard wrote brilliantly on Heysel in his essay 'The Transparency of Evil'. Now, football is forcing a new generation of writers to ask hard questions about their culture, as vicious warfare between Arab and working-class white supporters looks likely to tear apart the once-great Paris Saint-Germain, while Olympique de Marseille, fuelled by local patriotism, continue their own strange campaign against the rest of France. In the early 1970s, the Situationist thinker Guy Debord described English football hooligans as representing the vanguard of revolt against what he termed 'the society of spectacle'. This book is firmly in the same tradition of sociological analysis but, at the same time - and this is its strength - it demonstrates both the compelling power of football culture as well as its tragic capacity for self-destruction. Fonte: © 4 February 2007 Fotografie: GETTY IMAGES © (Not for commercial use) © Editions de Minuit © Icona: ©

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