The Blues and the Coupe de France are now the showcase of the French Football Federation. Yet these two institutions were born before the FFF. Why did you create this one?
Yvan Gastaut French football is still very artisanal when, in 1919, the French Federation is created. The FFF is an offshoot of the USFSA (Union of French Athletic Sports Societies), which was founded in 1887 and organizes very limited football competitions and friendly matches. The USFSA therefore delegates to this new federation, responsible for structuring the championship, the Coupe de France, born in 1917, and the national team, created in 1904. At that time, France is behind the rest of the Europe, where football has grown much faster.
What role will Jules Rimet play, first president of the FFF (1919 to 1947), who will also preside over Fifa (1921-1954)?
Yvan Gastaut What is paradoxical is that France, which is lagging behind in the development of football, will become the country at the origin of the institutional dimension of this sport. Jules Rimet, founder of the Red Star, a workers' and people's club, structures the FFF, then allows France to position itself by becoming president of the International Federation (Fifa) from 1921. Coming from a simple background, unlike Pierre de Coubertin, he sees in football and Fifa a way to bring people together. The French, with the Europeans, will thus beat the British. Inventors of football, the latter, who at that time have technical leadership and in the game, will find themselves marginalized by FIFA, which becomes continental. The English do not feel concerned by the first World Cups and fight for the first time in 1950, at the 4 e edition, in Brazil.
The Federation is structured very quickly. May 5, 1921, the Blues finally dominate the England team …
Yvan Gastaut This is happening in Vincennes in front of 30,000 people and, for the first time, the French team, which has become accustomed to being humiliated by the English on river scores (up to 15-0), beats England 2-1. This first victory against the English ogre is the beginning of a new era for French football and attests that the Federation is at work.
Gaston Doumergue, President of the III e Republic, gives a boost to the FFF by attending the final of the Coupe de France in 1927 …
Yvan Gastaut The presence of Gaston Doumergue for this 10 e editing is very important. By introducing the players, the president attests the importance of this sport and gives it its nobility. From this date, a republican ritual is established, which continues today …
How is the appearance five years later, in 1932, of the French professional championship?
Yvan Gastaut Not very well. France, which has defended the values of Olympism and amateurism, has long struggled to assume professionalism, but it responds to a need for entertainment and a business model emerging. The same year, foot runner Jules Ladoumègue was struck off his federation for having been paid. The Federation is therefore helping this process, but it is difficult to organize a professional championship because France is not unbridled on the value of money like England, where it has already existed since 1885. Its creation is an important turning point.
In 1931, against Czechoslovakia, the defender Raoul Diagne is the first black player to wear the jersey of the French team …
Yvan Gastaut Son of a Senegalese deputy in the National Assembly, who will also be Colonial Minister, Raoul Diagne represents a first form of diversity. He is a son of notable. Good player of the Racing Club de Paris, he is spotted and is made to come to the France team. He will count 18 selections and will play the 1938 World Cup.
What has been the role of immigration in the list of the team of France?
Yvan Gastaut The team of France is the story of permanent immigration and a little history of France. In 1904, English people living in France already wear the jersey of the first French team and we can say, in a way, that it was created by English. France will then welcome migrant workers who will play football: Poles, Italians, Maghrebians, Portuguese … When we look at how the teams of France are composed in each era, between naturalized and their sons born in France, we sees that the national team has always been a team of diversity.
Despite this evidence, the question of integration seems to always come back. The two World Cups won did not change anything?
Yvan Gastaut There is an evolution between 1998 and 2018. In 1998, Black-Blanc-Beur was a slogan that was based on the notion of integration, at a time when politics was very attentive to that with a High Commission for the United Nations. integration, integration policies … Then this notion has weakened, some considering that the children of migrants are already integrated and others that they will not integrate. That's why, in 2018, the notion of fraternity, of unity behind the nation has been valued and less diversity, as in 1998. This means that France is perhaps going beyond the problem of the integration to equalize the positions, that all the players of the French team are French and that there is no need to look for their origins.
After the fiasco of the 2010 World Cup, the professional world imposes a reform of governance and takes power in 2011 with the election of Christmas Le Graët at the head of the FFF. What upheaval does it have?
Yvan Gastaut At that time, a fight between amateurs and professionals rages for leadership. Professionals are few but have a lot of media and financial impact while amateurs, who gather the bulk of the troops, have little. The national emotion sparked by the Knysna fiasco will overplay this bankruptcy both politically and medically. We will criticize the amateurs on the management of the team of France but also financial of the institution, we will consider that the football, with the importance which it has taken and the sums involved, must be managed by professionals . This seizure of power is a major turning point in the history of the Federation. After 93 years of existence, the FFF changes gear and then completely switches to football business …