Red Star FC, the small club from Paris: its history is much more than the opposite of PSG

Any resistance is a desperate battle for the survival. Of themselves. But above all of an Idea. Because in order to eternalize a utopia, one is willing to do anything. Even to spend a life in the grayest shade. Martyrdom is something inherent in the essence of Red Star FC. A club that is a small minority, opposite faction. For more than a century. Always with it same pride. On the other hand, everything is defined in relation to its opposite. It is the theory of the unity of contraries of Heraclitus. A principle that finds universal application. Except in Paris. Why the small club playing in the third level of transalpine football is much more than the opposite of Paris Saint Germain. It is the sublimation of an ideal. The ball as a tool to affirm a vision of the world, a particular conception of society and the social. The PSG’s transnational longing against the territorial office of the Red Star. The nagging pursuit of grandeur against exile in status quo. Pockets swollen with petrodollars against constant application of the strictly necessary.

Two apparently irreconcilable worlds that are separated only by twelve kilometers. From the Parco dei Principi to the Stade de Paris. Down along the Boulevard Périphérique, the four-lane ring that runs around the French capital. Only this year the meaning of resistance has taken on a meaning again more pressing for Red Star FC. There is also at stake football survival. Accounting is overwhelming. Five wins. A draw. Nine defeats. The ranking of the Championnat National it already has worrying contours. The club is 14th, one step away from relegation. The paradox is that the verdict of the field has relative importance. Even for a group that is above all a sports team. Because the Red Star has long since ceased to be a franchise. Now it is a symbol. The important thing is not where he plays. But when he plays. Few other clubs have an identification so strong with the social fabric that surrounds them.

Red Star means Saint-Ouenan agglomeration north of Paris famous for its flea market. And for the reputation of a difficult area. Nearly fifty thousand souls who appear to be living in Clan Banlieu of the Modena City Ramblers. Over time, the Senna-Saint-Denis department has become the arrival point of a migratory flow that left the French African and Caribbean colonies. Until it is transformed into the area with the highest concentration of foreigners of the country (about 36%). There unemployment stands around the 20%. The French average is still at 8. According to a study, 25% of the population between 18 and 24 has neither a job nor a course of study that could facilitate the search for a job. A complex situation that turned the Red Star into a pole of attraction, in an aggregator of solitudes. So much so that the former president of the Republic François Hollande he publicly praised the club’s role in a “diverse and multicultural France”.

Already the birth certificate of the company has the contours of the legend. It is staged in the afternoon of February 21, 1897. La Eiffel Tower it will be completed only two years later, but a very special meeting takes place in a café at the foot of the construction site. Jules Rimet he is 24 years old. And he is determined to leave signs of his transit. Together with his brother Modeste he gathers some friends. The idea is to create a club that can become a soothing for the poor and for the disadvantaged classes who live in the area. A noble intuition that struggles to be enclosed in a name. Bystanders struggle for hours. Without finding a solution. This is where the epic mixes with reality. Until they are indistinguishable. The official version attributes intuition to Miss Jenny, the housekeeper of the Rimet house. At that moment she had pulled a ticket out of her pocket. It was the one on his last trip. She had crossed the Sleeve on a boat. And the company was called Red Star Ferries. She had seemed mysterious and fascinating to her. So she had decided to say it aloud. And everyone around her was speechless. It was perfect.

The connection with the working class had been immediate. It is inevitable. The house of the Red Star had become it Stade de Paris. Which soon became one Stade Bauer. It took its name from the small road on which it was built. But above all from an idea. Jean-Claude Bauer it was a anti-fascist doctor killed by the Nazis in 1942. And he became one of the tutelary deities of the Red Star. The whole iconography of the club, moreover, is based on martyrdom and on the resistence. Last year Adidas made one celebratory shirt which had become a wearable history book. The green jersey depicted men and women who made the history of the team. Not necessarily inside the field. A collection of holy cards in which it plays a fundamental role Rino Dalla Negrason of Italian immigrants who enters the French resistance and who, before being killed by the Nazis, wrote a letter to his brother asking to greet the Red Star for him. Dalla Negra has never worn the club jersey. But the last thought of her turned her into a totem of society. As well as Eugène Maës, a striker who in 4 seasons with the Parisian team had scored almost a hundred goals. His life had been broken during World War II when he was arrested by the Gestapo and then deported to the concentration camp of Mittelbau-Dorawhere he died in 1945. A parable that reaches up to Lauryn Coulibalysymbol of the opening to women’s soccer and a new perspective of equality.

In 2008 the club ended up in the director’s hands Patrice Haddad, who tried to regain the club’s historic position. Especially after the fans rejected one of his projects from 200 million for the construction of a new stadium asking for the modernization of the Bauer. By the time the new ownership arrived the club was sunk in sixth series of French football. And since then he has started a slow ascent, which in 2015 had brought him up in Ligue 2. But the work to transform the club into a peculiar entity reached its peak a year later, when David Belliona Red Star forward with a past in Sunderland, Manchester United, West Ham, Nice and Bordeaux, has been named director cretotive of the club. An unprecedented charge in French football. “The Red star is a underground club, romantic And popular loved by the people because it still retains that flavor of old-fashioned football. It’s a very powerful tool of freedom and creativity, ”he said a few years ago to Guardian. The heart of the new project is the Red Star Labthat is a platform of workshops where children can discover and learn disciplines different, in order to find their own way, also an alternative to football. The program is extremely varied: courses of street artphotography, kitchenmodern dance, eloquence, journalism, history and sculpture. “If PSG is a Hollywood blockbuster, Red Star is a indie film which could be directed by Ken Loach or Michel Gondry. We want to use football to send a message: we want to form good citizens. And to do that, we need to work on the physique and feed their minds, ”Bellion told A few weeks ago Bbc. A project that is worth more than any salvation.