Who’s France’s 12th Man ? Meet Les Irrésistibles Français


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EURO 16 is around the corner, an event promising joy for only one country and heartbreak for the rest of them. Players will fight and suffer but  what about that mixture  of hope, grief, despair and suffering of  their supporters ?

Supporters are a bizarre mixture; some of them are unconditional optimistic souls, some others are waiting for the worst,  but the majority are behind their team, win or lose. All of them ? Well not quite…

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While the English, German, Spanish and Dutch make their voice heard everywhere they go, the French supporters are of another breed. Some of them they just can’t figure out that a national team has nothing to do with the club they’re supporting. Thus some regrettable scenes of fans booing their national players, only because they play for an enemy club !

Fortunately these dreadful scenes are  now (or almost) the past of a nation who at last discovered the true meaning of “supporting” the national team. It started some years ago in the 2002’s  and here’s their story:

Once upon a time…well not really, but it could be  just a fairy tale if a bunch of “relentless Gaulois” hadn’t decided to start a new adventure by changing Stade de France’s  glacial atmosphere. A bunch of friends who worked hard to give the fans and players alike a place to be proud of.

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Their strategy was clear: watching the game standing up, singing songs of glory and support,  waving their flags, no matter the match’s result and travelling to the team’s games  at home and away. Nevertheless, it wasn’t as easy as one might think. After all,   lots of France’s supporters  were lacking the English and German counterparts  passion, for their national team and their reaction wasn’t the one expected. Fabien, one of IF pioneers remembers their difficult début :

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Stade de France’s ambiance wasn’t the same as the ones in Ligue 1 stadiums; I wanted to find that kind of magic that transform the spectator part, as one of the event.I contacted the Club des Supporters talked with them and joined the club in 2002. That was the place where the future members of the Irrésistibles Français met,  united by a common wish: having fun during the games

The official club‘s creation arrived later in the 2010’s but still there were many obstacles to overcome like …

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“The worst was, that standing up was strictly forbidden” said Fabien. It’s so normal today, but it took almost 10 years to achieve such a natural thing. People were throwing  bottles and bits of sandwiches to make us sit down, even if we were in the North Stand, the Supporters home. When we didn’t comply the Security’s threat to make us leave the stadium was very much real.”

This battle against the adversity helped to unite the most fervent of them and create the Irresistibles hard-core. Slowly the group began to  be known mostly after a successful World Cup 2006  when 300 supporters  followed their beloved Bleus.(11.000 k in 3 weeks).

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Two years later the FFF(French Football Federation) offered  only 10 tickets per game for the Euro 2008 ; this was  cruel and unfair but helped the IF to stand up and fight by signing more members , thus obtaining  from the FFF  the nomination of a  spokesperson who was favorable to the group’s aims.The supporters obtained the  permission to stand, sing and later to have big flags, even a loud-speaker.

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Since then things have changed ; there are songs, fun and joy and most of all the players are aware of that popular adulation that gives them force, the force of the forgotten 12th Man. So is this the happy-end ?

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Not yet, said Fabien. We’re satisfied for what we’ve already achieved but we still have things to do before the work’s done.We must attract more people, active supporters who want to help us to get bigger. We must help fans who don’t come to the stadium,  wary of the lack  of ambiance  by  being motivated and chanting louder; we want also to be heard by the players during the whole game.We’re going to have a better internet site and hopefully we will create more “tifo” like the one vs Russia.

About EURO 16 :” Unfortunately, because of the security problems, we can’t prepare any special event, said  Fabien. It’s a special moment but I’m sure that the Irrésistibles Français(named after  the Irrésistibles Gaulois) will help the team every time they play, hopefully till the Final, just like they did in the unforgetable game vs Ukraine. Four years later, the players still remember it  and  admit that because of that popular fervor, they knew that they’re were going to win. So our supporters have to play 7 France vs Ukraine and then …” #FiersdetreBleus

Many thanks, Fabien !

 

 

 



Categories: EURO 2016

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