• Photo de l'affiche de l'exposition Nous sommes Foot , Mucem © Antonio Mesa / Archives FFF
    Photo de l'affiche de l'exposition Nous sommes Foot , Mucem © Antonio Mesa / Archives FFF
  • Ballon d'or FIFA, 2007, orfèvre dit Meller Mellerio, éditeur France Football. Musée National du Sport, Nice © Musée National du Sport, Nice
    Ballon d'or FIFA, 2007, orfèvre dit Meller Mellerio, éditeur France Football. Musée National du Sport, Nice © Musée National du Sport, Nice
  • Lionel Briot, OM - Olympique Lyonnais, stade Vélodrome, Marseille, 16 août 2002, photographie issue de la série "Virage" © Lionel Briot / Adagp, Paris 2017
    Lionel Briot, OM - Olympique Lyonnais, stade Vélodrome, Marseille, 16 août 2002, photographie issue de la série "Virage" © Lionel Briot / Adagp, Paris 2017
  • Chambre d'un adolescent supporter, Mazaugues, 2017, Mucem © Mucem / Yves Inchierman
    Chambre d'un adolescent supporter, Mazaugues, 2017, Mucem © Mucem / Yves Inchierman
  • Hans van der Meer, Marseille, Montredon, 2004. Centre national des arts plastiques © Hans van der Meer / Hollandse Hootge, 2015
    Hans van der Meer, Marseille, Montredon, 2004. Centre national des arts plastiques © Hans van der Meer / Hollandse Hootge, 2015
  • Caio Vilela, Casablanca, Maroc, 2011 © Photographie Caio Vilela
    Caio Vilela, Casablanca, Maroc, 2011 © Photographie Caio Vilela
  • Jean François Batellier, Affiche du Collectif pour le boycott de l’organisation par l’Argentine de la Coupe du monde de football, Paris, 1978 © Musée National du Sport, Nice
    Jean François Batellier, Affiche du Collectif pour le boycott de l’organisation par l’Argentine de la Coupe du monde de football, Paris, 1978 © Musée National du Sport, Nice

We Are Football


J4 niveau 2 (800 m²) | From Wednesday 11 October 2017 to Sunday 4 February 2018

  • How about we forget everything we think we know about football ?

How about we forget everything we think we know about football ? What if we return to the origins of a sport that, despite being tainted by commercialism, remains above all, a passionate activity that is able to bring friends together, and unite a district, a city, or even a whole nation, despite the everyday social and political issues that divide people. How do the words « social », « cultural » and « political » fit alongside the word « football » ?

From the streets of Marseilles or Paris, to the ports of Istanbul or Athens, in the suburbs of Algiers, or on the beaches of Malaga, football, whose popularity has never diminished, forges a bond between the peoples of the Mediterranean. And if it sometimes reflects an image of a divided world, full of violence, racism and fanaticism, it is because it puts a spotlight on the dark corners of the societies it is a part of.

By bringing a ball into its space, the Mucem wanted to use its 300 pieces, objects, photos, installations and videos to pay tribute to football and to the popular culture that goes along with it, in the Mediterranean in general and Marseille in particular, named the European Capital of Sport for 2017.


General curators: Florent Molle, Heritage Conservator at the Mucem, and Gilles Perez, author, director and producer of documentary films
Artistic direction: Democracia

A Marseille Provence 2017 European Capital of Sport project
With the support of Mutuelles du Soleil and Fédération française de football

Logo - Mutuelles du Soleil Logo - FFF

 

Florent Molle

Ethnologist, Florent Molle is a heritage curator at the Mucem, where he is responsible for the collection dedicated to sport and health.
His role is to coordinate the collection-surveys, in collaboration with the museum’s Research and Teaching Department.

Gilles Perez

Author, director and producer of documentaries. After working as a war correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI), he has directed fifteen documentaries including Nous, ouvriers [Us, the Workers]… On the theme of football, he is the author of A Jamais les Premiers [Always the First] and since 2012, he has directed, with Gilles Rof, two seasons of the documentary series Les rebelles du foot [Football Rebels] with Eric Cantona, produced by 13 Productions and Cantobros. The film and the series have won awards in many international festivals.

Interview with Florent Molle and Gilles Perez,
exhibition commissioners

 

Mucem

« We are football » ... even if we’ve never kicked a ball, even if we’ve never been interested in the sport ?

 

Florent Molle (F.M.)

That’s the idea ! It may be a bit ambitious, but the idea behind the provocative title is that everyone is involved with football; especially those who hate the sport. We cannot ignore the fact that football is the most popular sport in the world : have people already forgotten that more than a billion viewers watched the final of the last World Cup ? The prevalence of football is because it’s much more than just a sport. Rather than talking about the game itself, its rules and its history, the exhibition highlights the value of examining European and Mediterranean societies through the prism of a football. Along the way, we look at passion, religion, the feeling of belonging, violence, gender, politics and economics...

 

Gilles Pérez (G.P.)

We are all football! And we have had a lot of fun in the exhibition. For example, right at the entrance, the visitor has to pass through an « anti-foot locker » : a cloakroom where we forget our old ideas, in other words all of our preconceived notions about the sport. It is about « washing away old ideas », rediscovering the kid who watched his mates kicking the ball around, and shared the joy of victory with his father ... We are football because football is a universal sport. No matter where in the world you are, it brings people together. When I was a war reporter, I had a fool-proof « password » that I used to break the ice with civilians or military personnel : « I’ve come Marseille, where Zidane’s from ». Just that started the conversation right away ! In Southeast Asia, I asked, « do you support Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool ? » In Spain : « do you support Real or Barça ? » Football is a culture that is shared by all the peoples of the world.

 

Mucem

How is football a relevant subject for the Mucem ?

 

F.M.

For a people’s museum, it’s obvious that we should talk about football. As the philosopher Jean-Claude Michéa reminds us, football is the perfect way to understand the contradictions of modern liberal society. Not only is it a popular sport, it’s also one of the biggest businesses in the world. It is a sport based on camaraderie, but also reflects the social and gender inequalities of our time. It is basically an « amateur » sport, but has become one of the key elements of our entertainment society. Football is therefore a reflection of contemporary society, where everything can be bought and sold, even a player, or a match !

 

G.P.

Making football the theme of an exhibition isn’t obvious. Some people will think that football is just an epiphenomenon, unworthy of a museum ... We want to make it clear that this sport necessarily reflects a societal and political reality. As Florent has pointed out, football provides a snapshot of society, and its increasing commodification has clouded our vision, has made us forget the basic emotions it evokes. Our message is that it is necessary to return to these basics, to understand football as a time to share. If we adopt the utopian idea that football is a common good that is needed for the construction of society, we must protest against the commercial and financial appropriation of popular passions.

 

Mucem

It is specifically in order to « get back to the basics » that you have gone « into the field » in several Mediterranean countries to carry out collection-surveys and meet people who live this passion on a daily basis ?

 

F.M.

The aim was to show that « supporterism » is a leisure activity practiced by many people. We needed to take this « football culture » seriously, to consider it as a social fact, to investigate it, to document it, and to collect objects and testimonies. Four researchers (Abderrahim Bourkia, Christian Bromberger, Sébastien Louis and Ljiljana Zeljkovic) went to meet supporters in several countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Israel–Palestine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, France and Spain). We also contacted all of the groups in Marseille, and we quickly came into contact with the Commando Ultra 84 and the « Old Guard », the old guys, the ones that started supporterism in France. We collected scarves, flags, banners, stickers, fanzines, T-shirts, photos ...

Everything that represents the material culture of supporterism and the « ultras » movement. Among one of the most remarkable pieces is a box of horns, made in 1972 by an Italian ultras group (Ultras Latina 1972). It was equipped with two car batteries, connected to eight Fiat 500 klaxons ! What a way to wake up a stadium! Another remarkable object is the banner belonging to the Ultras Verde Leone who are supporters of Mouloudia in Algiers ... And the hundreds of photographs taken on the ground. As for the « hooligans », we collected an iron bar used by Russian and English supporters in the rue Fort Notre-Dame in Marseille, during the fighting that broke out in the margins of Euro 2016.

 

Mucem

In the relationship that supporters have with their passion for football, are there characteristics that are specific to the Mediterranean ... and Marseilles ?

 

F.M.

If there is a particular Mediterranean characteristic, it is undoubtedly the ultras movement, the counterculture that was formed in Italy in the 1960s and spread very quickly throughout the rest of Europe. In France, the first association was founded in Marseille in 1984. At the end of the 1990s, the movement jumped across the Mediterranean and began to expand into Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Israel and Palestine.

 

G.P.

It is true that in Marseille, football is experienced more intensely than elsewhere. There is this famous 44th minute, on 26 May, 1993, when the city capsized in emotion as it planted its flag on the European planet. Beloved Marseilles was at last recognized when it reached the European summit. Olympic Marseille and its fans will remain « always the first » to have won the Champions League. The other specific characteristic of Marseille is the anti-fascist and anti-racist claims of supporters.

 

Mucem

How is the exhibition organized ? What are its main themes ?

 

G.P.

After the introductory « anti-foot locker », the visitor literally enters a football stadium, under the terraces; the scene was designed by the artistic directors Democracia. The first part addresses the theme of « Passion », in all its dimensions: from close-up, through the city, to the nation. We are interested in the relationship between football and religion—we try to understand ultras culture and what sets it apart from hooliganism. The theme of the second part is « Commitment ». Here, we present the links that unite football and politics. We want to understand how this popular culture has been used in recent political history and how, on the other hand, players have been able to seize the power of football to put forward other ideas. Here, the visitor enters what we call the « agora », a miniature stadium that we hope will provoke a debate—reminding us that the stadium is also a public place.

 

F.M.

« The transfer market » is the theme of the next part. Here, we continue to trace the history of football
from an amateur to a professional sport, up to the transfer market. There is a room where marketing posters
are displayed next to posters advertising films, and 45-inch records. The idea is to show how football merchandise
was born, manifested in the manufacture of these objects. The exhibition then exposes the visitor to
the dark side of present-day football : corruption and financial interests. Here, we ask the question of whether
football has to win at all costs ? The last section offers visitors a more positive view of football, by reminding
them that it can still be a world where camaraderie and citizenship are important. Its future only depends on
what we decide to do with it.

 

 

 

 



Exhibition itinerary

0 : Taking to the field

Hans van der Meer, Marseille, Montredon, 2004. Centre national des arts plastiques © Hans van der Meer / Hollandse Hootge, 2015
Hans van der Meer, Marseille, Montredon, 2004. Centre national des arts plastiques © Hans van der Meer / Hollandse Hootge, 2015

Leave your preconceived ideas about football in the changing room and feel the emotion. The football pitch is a place of genuine poetry – the poetry of childhood, play and friendship. Football remains such a crucial and popular sport because all you need is a ball, a few players and a small space to play in.

1 : Passions

Chambre d'un adolescent supporter, Mazaugues, 2017, Mucem © Mucem / Yves Inchierman
Chambre d'un adolescent supporter, Mazaugues, 2017, Mucem © Mucem / Yves Inchierman

In this section, religion and football are juxtaposed. Football is played in veritable temples where heroes do battle in the quest for the holy grail. A love of football is kindled early on within the family. For many the sport provides the first opportunities for social interaction. Football clubs can play an important educational role. A passion for football quickly leads to an affiliation with a club from a particular town or a national team. The ultras, such as those of Marseille, are the most loyal of all supporters, their passion shaping their whole outlook on life. Unfortunately, this passion sometimes tips over into fanaticism, leading in extreme cases to violence and racism.

2 : Activism

Jean François Batellier, Affiche du Collectif pour le boycott de l’organisation par l’Argentine de la Coupe du monde de football, Paris, 1978 © Musée National du Sport, Nice
Jean François Batellier, Affiche du Collectif pour le boycott de l’organisation par l’Argentine de la Coupe du monde de football, Paris, 1978 © Musée National du Sport, Nice

Throughout history, football has mirrored and magnified the moral values and political ideologies of the times, reflecting the upheavals of the 20th and 21st centuries: opposed to totalitarianism and colonialism, football has provided an arena for resistance, with particular players and lovers of the sport championing the sport’s humanistic values. Today, football stadiums continue to reflect contemporary society and provide a stage for the expression of political views.

3 : Mercatos

Maillot porté par Cristiano Ronaldo lors de la saison 2013-2014 du Real Madrid, 2013 – Mucem © Mucem Yves Inchierman
Maillot porté par Cristiano Ronaldo lors de la saison 2013-2014 du Real Madrid, 2013 – Mucem © Mucem Yves Inchierman

This last section highlights the shifting economics of football. In the 1930s, the professionalization of football, supported by the president of FIFA, went hand in hand with the sport’s growing popularity, enabling players from humble backgrounds to earn a living from the game. But with the rise of free market economics, football became big business and a media commodity, with huge sums of money at stake. Thanks to the transfer market, the rise of superstar players and incidents of corruption, football is no longer imbued with the spirit of its beginnings.

4 : Extra time

Paulo Ito, Graffiti Mondial Rio - Starving boy with football, Sao Paulo, Brésil, 2014 © Paulo ito
Paulo Ito, Graffiti Mondial Rio - Starving boy with football, Sao Paulo, Brésil, 2014 © Paulo ito

However, ordinary people continue to defend a humanistic vision of the sport through various initiatives : actions in the local community, clubs run by supporters and teams based on the values of solidarity (migrants, undocumented immigrants, etc.). Another kind of football exists, one that is inclusive and serves as a mouthpiece for the social issues of contemporary society.


Partners and sponsors

With the support of Mutuelles du Soleil and Fédération française de football