In camera, football without pomp

The decision fell on Tuesday: on order of the police headquarters, the return match of the knockout stages of the Champions League between Paris-SG and Borussia Dortmund (2-1 for the Germans to go) will be disputed in camera closed. The Ruhr club having received in front of its public to go, sports fairness is flouted and it does not matter in the light of the hundreds of dead, the eighth world power under quarantine or the fear that rises everywhere. However, we will play football on Wednesday at the Parc des princes and it is not nothing: the futility of the favorite game of men is not a luxury in such a frightening context.

It’s even something to savor: Italy is no longer there. The camera: no sharing or common momentum, something of the mystic of the player integrated into the city that floats in the air on match nights completely passed out. More prosaically, the circumstances will cost the Paris club some 5 million euros in “match day” revenue. But it’s still football, reduced to its nuclear heart: 22 players at the same time on a lawn, a ball and a referee. The TV microphones will pick up words from the field like behind a handrail: “Leave”, “I have”, “squeeze” or “closed”, and it is not forbidden to think that the imagination of viewers will bring back some memories, the noise of crampons slamming on the tiles and the door which is closed on a cloakroom stained with dirt and a forgotten towel.

Football has many faces: it also has that one. During their formative years, the players did not always perform in front of an audience. Since then, some have learned to feed on it, others to ignore it, still others to imagine a loved one (sometimes disappeared) somewhere in the gallery: the absence of decorum, often used as an external stimulus, will suggest to them an original idea of ​​the game, the space of the match as a closed world belonging to them completely. Of course it is not: the weight of a club-state for Parisians, that of a career on the rise for the 19-year-old star attacker of Borussia Dortmund Erling Haaland, and the sporting ambition well understood for players on both sides. However, the decor will suggest sweaters rolled into balls as posts. We confess to be curious to know how they will manage.

Grégory Schneider

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May 4, 1949: the Torino team decimated in the plane crash

Every week with RetroNews, the BNF press site, a look back at a history of sport as told by the press at the time. This Saturday, the air disaster that decimated the team of the “Grande Torino”, May 4, 1949.

“The players of the best Italian football team are killed in a plane crash near Turin. The 31 passengers are charred ”, title in one Humanity May 5, 1949. The accident took place in the town of Superga, near Turin. “The plane from Portugal found itself in difficulty near the basilica which stands on a height”, informs the newspaper. The altimeter would then have frozen and the aircraft struck the bell tower of the basilica before crashing to the ground and catching fire.

Torino was the breeding ground for the Italian national team, double reigning world champion (1934, 1938) recalls fight. “Torino, Italian champion for the 1947-1948 season, after a long-standing undecided fight with Milan, was poised to win the title again. Among the victims is the Frenchman Emile Bongiorni, several times selected in the French team, who wore the colors of the Italian club since the start of the 1947-1948 season: he was a player whose ardor and passion had made the popularity. “ Another Frenchman, Roger Grava, died in the accident.

Dawn May 6 provides details of the cause of the accident: “The aircraft could not land on the Turin aerodrome made impassable by the recent rains. The plane then headed for Milan, but its disordered altimeter indicated a height of 2,000 meters when in reality it only flew at 600 meters. The poor visibility did not allow the pilot to see the dome of the Church of Superga which he struck at a speed of 400 km / h “ The newspaper focuses on the personality of the two French players who died in the drama. “Bongiorni,” Milo ” [son surnom, ndlr] hid in his great physical means an innate sense of football. Dangerous shooter, he had no equal to shake up a defense. […] The same size, the same power, Roger Grava also distinguished himself by his strong personality, both physical and moral. In Roubaix, his last club, with which he won the French championship in 1947, his services were unanimously appreciated. ”

“All of Italy is grieving after the tragic end of the Turin football team”, title Tonight May 6, 1949. The newspaper collected the testimony of a former “Milo” Bongiorni teammate at Racing, Ernest Vaast. “He was not just a teammate. He was a friend to me. We started racing together in 1942. And together we played for the national team. […] He had signed a two-year contract with Torino, but I know he was doing everything he could to join us again next season. For him, for his memory, we have one more reason to win Sunday against Lille. “ Far from this emotion, the newspaper delivers sordid details on the identification of bodies: “At the Turin morgue, it is difficult to recognize, in these horribly mutilated corpses, the magnificent athletes who, on the green lawns of the stadiums, made so many football enthusiasts vibrate. Relatives parade endlessly in front of the victims in order to identify them, here recognizing an alliance, there an old scar. ”

In its next day edition, Tonight publishes a full page of photos taken at Superga. They bear witness to the violence of the crash with a wing here, the propeller elsewhere, an engine in the outbuildings of the basilica and the grief of those close to the missing (Ossola’s mother, another player’s brother).


Tonight May 8 announced on the front page that the next day, during the final of the French Cup which will oppose them in Lille, “Racing players will mourn in Colombes their former teammate,” Milo “Bongiorni”. A photo shows two players: “After removing their equipment from the club’s headquarters on rue Ampère, Moreel and Vaast attach the black armband that was given to them by the managers on their jerseys.”

fight May 9 announces that the remains of Emile Bongiorni will be returned to Paris the same day. His former Racing teammates paid him homage by winning 5-2 in the Coupe de France final against Lille.

“Yesterday morning, the Parisian sportsmen went to the Parc des princes to pay a last tribute to Bongiorni and Grava whose bodies were exposed under the presidential tribune transformed into a burning chapel, recounts fight May 13. The Racing players taking turns mounted an honor guard around the body of their unfortunate comrade while players from the Italian US surrounded the remains of Grava. “

Seven months after the disaster, Paris Presse-l’Intransigeant from January 13, 1950 title “Superga is fading. Italy will go to Rio by plane. ” Understand: the national team will fly to Brazil to compete in the World Cup of which it is title holder. The calendar did not leave him any other option says the newspaper, “Highlighting the very short time between the end of the Italian championship (May 23) and the start of the World Cup in the first half of June.” The trauma of the Superga crash has not been erased: “However, it has already been established that the trip will be made in several groups.”

Continuation of the story. The Torino reserve team plays the last four games of the 1948-1949 championship and wins the title before Inter. It is the sixth and final coronation of the Grande Torino, as the best Italian team was nicknamed, national champion in 1928, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949, cup winner in 1936 and 1943 before losing its luster. The Torino is slowly waning, a situation all the more cruel as the big local rival, Juventus, is gaining momentum. The club experienced a revival allowing it to offer itself a new Scudetto in 1976. In the 90s, in the grip of big financial difficulties, it made the elevator between first and second divisions. In recent years, Torino FC has not shone or particularly dark, regularly finishing in the middle of the table. The Derby della Mole is a perfect illustration of the chasm that separates the two teams located on the banks of the Po since the Torino have won against the Old Lady only once since 1995. The saying goes, however, that the club of the inhabitants of Turin remains the Torino when Juventus is that of the rest of Italy.

Since the Superga drama, football has also been regularly marked by air disasters that decimate entire teams. In 1958, eight of the “Busby Babes”, the hypertalentent class of Manchester United trained by Matt Busby, die in the plane crash at Munich airport while returning from Belgrade where they qualified for the Champions Club Cup semi-finals. The Danish team, on July 16, 1960, those of the Bolivian club The Strongest, on September 26, 1969, of Tashkent, on August 11, 1979 also paid a heavy price. On December 8, 1987, 43 people including the 16 players from Alianza Lima, one of the most famous Peruvian clubs, perished after their plane crashed into the sea. In 1993, the entire team from Zambia disappeared in the accident of the military plane which took him to Senegal for the World Cup qualifiers. Last collective disaster to date, that which bereaved the Brazilian club Chapecoense, November 28, 2016: 19 players who were going to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana in Colombia die, three survive.

Gilles Dhers

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