No more professional football matches will be played on May 5th

Twenty-nine years after the Furiani stadium disaster, which left nineteen dead on May 5, 1992, the collective of families of victims won their case, despite the reluctance of the League and the Football Federation. Thursday, October 14, Parliament definitively adopted a bill which provides that no professional football match will be played on May 5 in France.

The Senate voted by show of hands, without modifications, the text carried by the Corsican deputy Michel Castellani (Liberties and territories), which the National Assembly had adopted in February 2020. The bill has been placed on the order of the day of the Senate as part of a parliamentary “niche” reserved for the environmental group, which includes the Senator from Haute-Corse, Paul-Toussaint Parigi.

Although the bill is supported by the government, Minister Roxana Maracineanu, traveling alongside the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, was not present, which senators regretted. The minister in charge of the city, Nadia Hai, for her part clarified that the text does not include sanctions, because the sports ministry “Works with football authorities” so that the freeze on matches is respected. According to her, it is about posing “A framework of lasting commemoration in order to fight against oblivion”.

Read also Furiani, a French tragedy

Minute of silence

Of limited legal scope, the adoption of this text is however highly symbolic, a few months before the 30e anniversary of the drama of Furiani. “Recourse to the law constitutes the ultimate hope for the collective of victims to be heard”, pleaded the rapporteur Thomas Dossus (Europe Ecologiste-Les Verts), defending the “Balanced character of the device”, who “Does not concern amateur matches, nor international matches”.

By 2040, only eight days of the championship could be affected. For amateur football, the text provides for the organization of a minute of silence and the wearing of a black armband on May 5.

For more than twenty-five years, the collective of victims and their families have been calling for the ban of matches on May 5, in the face of the reluctance of the League and the Federation, hampered in the organization of their competitions.

That day, in 1992, the upper part of a temporary stand at the Furiani stadium collapsed before the kickoff of the Coupe de France semi-final between Bastia and Olympique de Marseille. Nineteen people were killed and more than 2,300 people were injured.

Read also Football: memorial discord twenty-seven years after the drama of Furiani

“A message to Corsica”

For Mr. Parigi, it is a question of registering “In the marble of the law that neither money can stifle life, nor forgetting sacrifice memory”. This vote “Also send a message to Corsica”, underlined the senator of Corse-du-Sud Jean-Jacques Panunzi (The Republicans), deploring that “The national sports authorities were not there for many years”.

On all the benches, senators nevertheless expressed their reservations or their questions on this text. How to explain that it is examined “Almost thirty years after the tragedy”, asked Didier Rambaud (Rally of Democrats, Progressives and Independents with a majority La République en Marche).

“In accordance with the background (…), we wonder about the relevance of resorting to the law ”, said the president of the radical majority European Democratic and Social Rally, Jean-Claude Requier.

Socialist Jean-Jacques Lozach spoke of “An act of calling into question the autonomy of the sports movement”. “Recourse to the law is essential as a stopgap in the absence of a national consensus which should have been established”, retorted the centrist Claude Kern.

The freezing of matches is not unanimous either. Some would have preferred a solemn moment of meditation at the start of the meeting or the wearing of an armband. “Memory does not resonate in silence (…) we must honor the victims through play ”, ruled Mr. Requier. “The practice of football will never insult supporters”, added Dany Wattebled (Independent).

William Dupuy

Independent political analyst working in this field for 14 years, I analyze political events from a different angle.

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