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France: 30 years after the Furiani tragedy, appeasement peaks with the sanctuary of May 5


Tannuity years after “the worst disaster in French sport”, the 19 dead and 2,357 injured in the collapse of a stand at the Furiani stadium in Bastia, Corsica, before a shock against OM, appeasement points to the freezing of matches on May 5 in French competitions.

Paradox: this year, for the entry into force of the law, a match will however be organized Thursday, May 5, between Olympique de Marseille and the Dutch team of Feyenoord Rotterdam. But it will be in the context of a European event, in the semi-final return of the Europa League Conference, and the collective of victims believes that it has achieved its “main objective” by sanctifying this day in the future.

“Here the sun goes down and the atmosphere rises”?

After these few words from Michel Vivarelli, journalist at Radio France Corse, a great crash and a deafening silence occupied the antenna for several minutes. The north stand of the Armand-Cesari stadium in Furiani had just collapsed on May 5, 1992.

Perched at the top of this temporary stand nearly 20 meters high, the reporter was preparing to comment on the Coupe de France semi-final between Bastia and OM. Around him, 8,000 people were seated. A few minutes before kick-off, Marseille stars Jean-Pierre Papin, Basile Boli, Abedi Pelé and Chris Waddle were still in the locker room.

The words of Michel Vivarelli, his last, now adorn the path that leads to the memorial of the victims.

“Peaceful” commemorations

“This year, these are quite symbolic and special commemorations”, according to Josepha Guidicelli, the president of the collective of victims. That day she lost her father, Jean-Pierre Guidicelli, also a journalist.

“Symbolic”, because “these are the 30th anniversary of the tragedy”, and “particular (…) because on October 14 there was this law which came to freeze the matches when it falls on May 5” .

This request that no first, second division, Coupe de France and Trophée des Champions football matches be played on May 5, definitively adopted by the French Parliament, “was very important for us”, recalls the one who had 4 years on the day of the tragedy: “This fight which took ten years to succeed” was the main demand of the collective.

It was “a national tragedy, one of the darkest pages in French sports history”, underlined the Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu in February 2020, during the adoption by the National Assembly of the text carried by a Corsican deputy .

Tirelessly, the victims hitherto stumbled on the reluctance of the Professional Football League and the French Football Federation (FFF), embarrassed in the organization of their competitions. As a result, these will be “much more peaceful, much more serene commemorations”, insisted Ms. Guidicelli.

So of course, there will be this Marseille-Feyenoord on Thursday. A meeting that Renaud Muselier, president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region, or Jean-Charles Orsucci, mayor of Bonifacio in the south of Corsica, had called to move to another date, “out of respect for the memory of the victims”. Without success.

Collective memory

“We play a little bit of bad luck and bad luck”, recognizes Ms. Guidicelli: but “our request concerned national competitions played in France” and “our main objective has been achieved with this law”.

OM, who asked UEFA to be able to “do something” on the day of the match, are still waiting for an answer.

“It’s a shame for the symbolism”, insists Ms. Guidicelli: “But it will not change our commemorations”, marked as every year by a ceremony of meditation at 4:00 p.m. in front of the stele, where the platform collapsed. Then it will be a mass at the cathedral of Bastia, at 6:00 p.m.

On Wednesday, a film on the disaster will be screened in the Armand-Cesari stadium, then, on Friday, a theatrical creation based on testimonies from the victims will be played at the Bastia theater.

On the judicial side, only one of the 13 defendants initially prosecuted received a prison sentence, the builder of the temporary stand, sentenced to two years in prison at first instance and who had not appealed. At the end of the appeal trial in 1995, eight other defendants, including officials from the club, the Corsican League or the FFF, as well as the former director of the prefect’s cabinet, were sentenced to suspended sentences or fines.

03/05/2022 13:59:15 – Ajaccio (AFP) – © 2022 AFP

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