“I had foreign colleagues who told me that when they arrived in their hotel room, the window was not put down! We feel that there are some problems. » From the outset, Hervé Mougin, president of the group of French supporters Irrésistibles, describes the sometimes strange atmosphere which reigns for this World Cup in Qatar.
Present in Doha, he evokes the first days spent in the villages built from scratch to receive fans from the football world. “The places are sanitized, the buildings are so big, it’s not an event on a human scale. “We have the impression that everything is under cellophane”, he laughs. But the supporter, who was in Brazil in 2014, as in Russia in 2018, also finds reasons for satisfaction: “All the supporters of the world are gathered in the same place. You can come across 31 nations different from yours when, at the previous Worlds, we only came across them during matches. It’s a pretty exhilarating environment. »
A rising euphoria
A veteran of nine World Cups to his credit, Clément d’Antibes is also present in Qatar. He claims not to have “never seen that”. “A Tunisian friend lent me a rooster with which I walk in the streets of Doha or in the souk, and people of all nationalities come to talk to me”describes the one who savors his last competition. “At 74, this is my last World Cup and with the injuries and uncertainties surrounding the France team, I was afraid it would be a blow in the water. “But the results are there! »he rejoices after the two victories of the France team and its qualification for the round of 16.
During the France team’s match against Australia, there were 3,000 French supporters. They were a thousand more in the second match against Denmark, gathered in the stands. “The Qatari officials are rather conciliatory when we explain to them that it would be good to bring together the French supporters who did not buy their tickets together, once in the stadium. As a result, we were able to create kops to add a bit of atmosphere,” rejoices Hervé Mougin. After two encounters, he feels “a growing atmosphere” among the French present in Doha.
A passion that translates concretely: “We saw some French fans who were not used to associating with groups of supporters coming to inquire with us, to join”, says the fan, for whom qualifying for the round of 16 releases a certain adrenaline. “Foreign fans tell us about our team as the big favourites, there is a respect around the national team which comes earlier than in 2018. In Russia, we were taken seriously after the round of 16 against Argentina. This year, it is already the case! »
The dream of a new coronation
Thousands of kilometers away, in France, French supporters are not left out. Leaning on the table of her favorite bar, surrounded by friends, Lauriane savors the euphoric end of the match of the French team against Denmark. The double of the inevitable Kylian Mbappé has just qualified the Blues for the 10th knockout stages of the World Cup in their history. The supporter from Tours, present in one of the strongholds of supporters in the old center, explains: “Les Bleus matches are always a beer in hand with friends. And we scream, we scream until they win! » Behind the image of a happy party girl hides a real connoisseur. “You know, every time France beat Denmark in the group stage, they end up winning the World Cup! “Okay, it only happened twice, but don’t we say two without three?” »she laughs.
200 kilometers further north, within the Vitré Foot association, football fan Patrick Flippot recalls: “With the injured, with the pattern of play which had suddenly changed, we waited to see… then we reassured ourselves. We are pleasantly surprised. We have a group! » The blue jersey pegged to the body, he begins to dream. “Of course France can go all the way! » Of all the teams, the men of Didier Deschamps are those who have made “the best impression” since the start of the World Cup. “I saw that Brazil and Spain were in the other part of the table. At this stage, I don’t see any other teams capable of competing with France before the semi-finals.”predicts Patrick Flippot.
In Qatar, the indestructible Clément d’Antibes is more cautious: “This World Cup is really curious. When we see Germany falling, Belgium losing its means… we say to ourselves that it could happen to us. But of course, we are among the biggest favourites! » Cautious, Hervé Mougin also does not want to succumb to euphoria. “Some of us already imagine ourselves with a third star. You have to go game after game. »
The excitement that is gaining French homes is not without affecting some supporters who have chosen to abstain. Fabien Bonnel, also a member of the French Irresistibles group, had decided to boycott this World Cup, in response to the violation of human rights in Qatar and the ecological nonsense surrounding this World Cup. A decision “hard to bear” so much the love of the blue jersey is anchored in him, confides the person concerned. “I was confident in my ability to hold on”he explains “But during the first match, while I was playing sports, a colleague turned on the radio and I had a hard time having to move away from the sound. »
“I’ve always said I wasn’t infallible, but I’m proud to have held on so far. I’m not the only one, there is a small wave of people who have made the same choice as me., says Fabien Bonnel. For the latter, the boycott does not prevent the wish for success “I will be delighted that France goes to the end. I wish my fellow supporters, who have not made the same choice as me, to experience this euphoric moment. »
“Of course, we don’t forget the context”abounds Patrick Flippot. “Now the controversies are behind, the sport has started and what more can we do? If I turn off my television, in reality, nobody cares! »argues the one who has long worked as a coach in regional teams. “The fever that emanates from a World Cup has something supernatural about it. The supporters cannot be guilty of supporting their team, for a decision taken more than ten years ago.he confides, a bit moved.
Faced with good audience scores, the breath of the boycott seems to be dissipating little by little. “On December 18, if France reach the final, I don’t know what I will do”asks Fabien Bonnel. “We will see how far the France team will mistreat me! »
Supporters on site and audiences at the highest level
The Irresistibles Français movement, the main group of supporters of the French football team, was born in 2002. It has nearly 1,600 members.
A vote was taken between the members of the French Irresistibles to determine whether it was legitimate to go to Qatar. The “yes” won, but several members showed their intention to boycott the matches.
On Tuesday, November 22, the France-Australia match attracted an average of 12.53 million viewers, for an audience share of 48.1%. Four days later, during the France-Denmark match, 11.59 million viewers watched the victory of the French team (62.8% audience share).