In 2018, euphoria, joy, and lightness accompanied the triumph of the Blues at the World Cup in Russia. But what will happen this year, after months of confinement, far from stadiums and bars? The sociologist of sport Patrick Mignon, researcher at Insep and author of several books on football, delivers his analysis.
After more than a year of pandemic and restrictions, how does this Euro look different?
PATRICK MIGNON. Curfew at 11 pm, opening of the terraces… The conditions are met for things to go as before during the World Cup and for the other competitions. People can also go out to visit each other. However, I have doubts about the impact of this Euro. During this long confinement, football has somewhat disappeared from the radar. Ditto for the France team. Football was not the weekly staple or you really had to be a fan to experience it on the Internet. Usually there is an atmosphere that prepares the event, but this time it was complicated.
Is it more expected of the French because of its postponement last year?
I think not. The interest of football is its ritualized side. The postponement of the Euro, as for the Olympics, has an impact on the regularity of this sport. For an event, you have to prepare. But today, we are preparing for many subjects … For example, everything we did not do during confinement. The investment of our free time and our concerns for other priorities will compete with interest in the Euro. The French team interests 80% of the French. Usually they always have something to say about the players, about the return of Benzema… This time around I didn’t see that excitement. The craze will not start immediately, but rather depending on the results of the France team.
Football brings people together. Despite everything, is it the event that will allow us to find each other without thinking about barrier gestures?
Among those interested in the competition, we will find two clans. Those who wish to perpetuate the habits of before, go to the bar, hug … and those who will prefer to stay at home. The football audience is very large. Young people are very enthusiastic, but older people do not want to take risks. It’s an interesting situation to watch over the next few weeks. The virus is still present. We must continue to respect barrier gestures and wear the mask. These elements stop spontaneity. Then there will be people or personalities in the medical world who will say to be careful. Other people will even be outraged by the crowds.
With a year away from the stadiums and the excitement of this sport, will the enthusiasm be there?
The test is the return to normal. See if there is still a desire to go to the stadium, to experience this sport collectively. The pleasure of football is being together. It’s the crowd, the packed stadium, the big screens, the plazas, the crowded cafes. We do not know if this pleasure will be there. Perhaps the fallback to television can continue.
What can be the impact of a defeat on the morale of the French?
It all depends on how they lose. If ever the France team loses, it will be criticized on the players, the skin colors, the money they win. The feeling of happiness will turn into bad resentment.