This Sunday, January 19, nearly 800 people line the spans of the Arena Teddy Riner, the new temple of the ACCS Futsal Club Paris VA 92, inaugurated in Asnières-sur-Seine in July. Young people from the neighborhood, and not so young, came to encourage their team against Nantes, the highlight of the 12e day of the championship of France. The announcer takes advantage of a short period of calm to spread the news that brought the club to the front of the stage in early January: “You must have heard of it. The magic Ricardinho has signed with us… ” A round of applause, a power outage. Perfect representation of the difficulties of making futsal a major sport in France: imagine the Parc des Princes plunged into darkness at the time of Neymar’s presentation.
With the arrival of the Portuguese, 34, six times the best player in the world, more equal than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo than Neymar, the Ile-de-France club enters a new dimension. All the more spectacular since he waded in the French fifth division in 2014. In six years, the Lions achieved one of the most dazzling climbs of French sport: an ascent each year, the title of their division as a bonus. Except for last season, tarnished by a lost final after extra time against Toulon. A slight hitch that should quickly be removed. This Sunday, at the end of a dominated head and shoulders match, the Altoséquanais win 7 goals to 1. Unbeaten this season (apart from the first league match against Toulouse, lost on the green carpet for playing a suspended player, despite an 8-1 victory). At mid-championship, they prance at the top of the classification with a difference in stratospheric goals of over 55.
Why did the discipline megastar sign in Asnières? “This is the question I am asked the most, he replied to the magazine team February 7. It’s a new challenge. I have already played in minor championships, in Japan, in Russia. I’ve been in Spain for seven years, I’ve won everything I could win, and now I want to help a team grow, to promote a championship. ” The club’s boss Sami Sellami, 33, was behind the transfer. Originally from Asnières-sur-Seine, he went through a business school before working for twelve years in the voluntary sector. In 2008, he decided to create an association to help the inhabitants of the district. “We wanted to support accused persons in entrepreneurial projects. The social dimension has always been an integral part of our motivations ”, says he. Very quickly, a futsal section was created, initially to occupy the children and educate them through the prism of sport. The crowd is such that Sami Sellami smells the opportunity. He made futsal the alpha and omega of his activities and launched a senior team in 2014. At the time, the club was on promotion of honor (PH), the lowest level in France. There followed a series of blows. The first in 2016, when the Access (for Citizen, Cultural Educational and Sports Association football club, then in the third division) enrolled five French internationals. Among them, Abdessamad Mohammed (44 caps), just crowned champion of France with Le Kremlin-Bicêtre and voted best player in the championship. Still at Asnières, he explains that his decision was not dictated by greed: “I come from a neighborhood in Val-de-Marne. I am sensitive to this project because it conveys the same values as the club in which I grew up. The combination of sporting performance and social proximity brought me here. ”
Since the club was created in 2014, the Lions have achieved a meteoric rise. Photo Cyril Zannettacci. Seen for Release
This culture permeates all spheres of the club. The striker Sid Belhaj, a French international, regularly turns into an educator and supports teams of young people: “When they see us, they have stars in their eyes. Everyone here is making a contribution. We don’t just focus on team number 1. We have to prepare for the future. ”
This January 19, during the match against Nantes, a kop of twenty teenagers sang songs, drums in hand, throughout the match. At the end of the match, 15-year-old Ibrahim, Chris and Kilyan are juggling in front of the Arena. From Asnières, they play 11-a-side football in Racing and became fans of the club. “We are proud to be from Asnières. It gives a good image of the city. ” They rejoice in the close relationship they have forged with their idols: “The players come to our games and give us lots of advice. About working at school and listening to parents. They instill in us the sense of sacrifice. ”
But to attract the best players, social is not enough. Captain Kevin Ramirez joined the club in 2017 while playing at Lazio in Rome with professional player status. Yes “The acclimatization to D3 was difficult”, the Frenchman was won over by the great ambitions displayed by the president. “It’s the club’s credo, to make possible what is impossible. It is clear that it works. Today we are a locomotive because we have a very competitive workforce. “ Over time, sporting issues have taken up a lot of space. “We cannot be on all fronts”, regrets Sami Sellami, before correcting: “We are going to make futsal a lever. The goal is to say, “You see, we succeeded from scratch, we can do it in any field.” It’s our showcase product. ” The president is now targeting the Champions League. “This is the end goal. We have started a real revolution. Right now, we’re just looking like Louis XVI ”, he plastered with a broad smile. Before thinking about the big-eared cup, Lions must already win D1, the only way to qualify. It’s more than in their ropes.
Placed under the aegis of the French Football Federation (FFF) since a decision of the Ministry of Sports in 1997, the tricolor futsal is entirely amateur. A status that inexorably slows the rise of clubs. “To exist, it is essential that the pre-training of the players is effective”, abounds Sami Sellami. A position shared by Pierre Jacky, coach of the France team: “The development of futsal in France requires professionalization. We need structured clubs and real training capable of bringing out the best players of tomorrow. “ The situation is evolving slowly. Since 2015, clubs can offer professional contracts which are not approved by the International Football Federation. The rare players concerned are therefore protected by labor law but not by international bodies.
Female soccer model
Pressured since the recent performances of the France team, the federation decided to launch a futsal development policy in early 2019. It must be said that the Blues are going through the most auspicious period in their history, after a first participation in the Euro in 2018 and encouraging results against the best nations. They had never been so close to the World Cup but missed the last step in January, in a final qualifying tournament. “The federation was not prepared for the Euro, smiled Abdessamad Mohammed. We weren’t their priority, but they’ve responded well since. We play in large arenas with quality parquet floors and substantial technical resources. It changes from the small stages where the sound system broke down every second time. ”
To develop futsal, the FFF now relies heavily on the influence of the French team. A model inspired by the success of women’s football at 11. Except that the women present two clubs at the top: Lyon, which dominates Europe as a bully, and Paris, a new rich with disproportionate ambitions. Two gondola heads that French futsal can’t (yet) claim to own. “By playing in a top league and in contact with foreign internationals, the level of French players is constantly increasing, assures Pierre Jacky. The arrival of Ricardinho shows that we are going in the right direction. “ The federation has created a club license (endowment of 20,000 euros paid to those who meet a number of criteria, such as the opening of futsal schools for young people). A policy deemed satisfactory by Sami Sellami, for whom “it is above all the clubs to take responsibility “.
The Asnières outbreak is a boon for French futsal, which today has nearly 30,000 licensees, an increase of 12% in five years. But the future of the Lions does not look so bright. It is now a question of amortizing the pharaonic salary (for futsal) of Ricardinho (approximately one million euros charged per year, while the annual budget of the club is around 500,000 euros). Without forgetting that of future recruits. In December, the newspaper Team reported negotiations started with several very high level players. Without specifying the identity. Sami Sellami claims to have already signed four pre-contracts with “Stars of the same caliber as Ricardinho”. To the uncertainty linked to the municipal elections (the city provided financial support of 110,000 euros per year until last year) is added the urgency to find sponsors and to raise funds. The broadcasting of the matches, and the TV rights that would ensue, is a priority. The D1 teams hope to ride on the success of the French team, whose matches during Euro 2018 were broadcast by the channel L’Equipe. In the meantime, ACCS is trying to generate excitement on social media. Eliott Crenel was hired as a community manager for “Create a buzz and be talked about”. Once again, Ricardinho’s arrival, with his million followers on Instagram, should serve as a springboard.
The game’s rules
Futsal is played 5 against 5, 4 field players and a goalkeeper, on a handball field and with an anti-rebound ball. Nine substitutes may be entered on the match sheet and the coach may make unlimited changes. The match lasts two halves of twenty minutes (actual playing time). If a player commits a foul, the referee may blow a direct or indirect free kick or a penalty. There are yellow and red cards. The excluded player can be replaced after two minutes of penalty. If a team concedes a shorthanded goal, the substitute may enter the field immediately. All faults committed by a team in a half-time are added up. From the sixth, the referee must whistle a direct free kick without wall (ten meters from the opponent’s goal or closer depending on where the foul was committed).
Mickaël Duché Photos Cyril Zannettacci. Viewed