A smug smile stretches his cheeks. Tarek Gouache, 52, has wrapped himself in his green and red flag, which he is shaking like a precious blanket. The time of a match, this supporter is again a little boy. Tuesday, October 15, this security officer made the path from Noyelles-Godault (Pas-de-Calais) to approach the closest team of his heart – Algeria – who dominated Colombia with insolence (3-0 ) during a friendly match at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Villeneuve-d'Ascq (Nord). "The last time I saw the national team was in Constantine in 1981 against Nigeriahe says. I've been waiting thirty-eight years to see her again. "
Silence. Sigh. Smile. And then, he just holds his tears. "Why did I come here to see the national team? Why do I live here? "he repeats. Like so many others, he crossed the Mediterranean several decades ago to escape misery when"We have billions of dollars"he pleads. "In Algeria, people are never allowed to work, there is always sabotage. But there, with Djamel Belmadi, the coach, we finally have a man, a real one, at the head of the national team "he says.
When he learned that the African champions were coming to France – after eleven years of absence – facing the Cafeteros (nickname of the Colombian team), he did not hesitate to buy a place on the Internet. "It's a miracle to have a ticket"he repeats. All seats were sold in forty-eight hours … That evening, some 40,000 Algerian fans from Paris, Lyon or Marseille marched from Lille's city center to the stadium displaying their pride, their colors – including the Amazigh colorful pennant (Berber) – and their songs. The "One, two, three, live Algeria! " have shaken the metal frame of the enclosure. As to Kassaman, the Algerian national anthem, sung in the stands by a green and red mass, it had to resound until Algiers.
"It's a piece of Algeria that came to France"
"We had to come"Razika says, hiding her gaze under the visor of her black cap. This student in civil engineering in Valenciennes has not set foot in Algeria for seven months. "See all these people, it reminds me of the atmosphere of the wheat"she lets loose in a loud laugh. This is the first time she sees in real life the Fennecs and "I'm going back to the stadium", she says. In Algeria, women are not used to going there. She came with her band of friends that she met in Bejaia, in Kabylie. Beside her, there is Linda, same age, same studies. She is impressed, even amazed, by all her compatriots who display immense flags before her. "It's a piece of Algeria that came to France"said Linda smiling, an Amazigh acronym drawn on her cheek.
"I love the French team as much as Algeria. There are in the Fennecs many binational players like me, and I identify with them "
All of these fans have come out mainly to celebrate the Greens' win at this summer's African Cup of Nations (CAN) Cup. "The party continues"says Sophienne Khalif, 29, who made the trip to Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) with her big brother. For this agent of seizure in a laboratory, this match recalls the tragic history between Algeria and France; painful memories of colonization found in every family. And shows how important the Algerian diaspora is (more than 800 000 immigrants according to a recent count of the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE)).
"I love the French team as much as Algeria. There are in the Fennecs many binational players like me, and I identify with themsays Sophienne. But Algerian pride is in the blood. " His brother Mohamed goes on: "It's true, it's hard to understand, but it's like that. But, there is no vengeful or hateful spirit. "
These lovers of their national team also tried to avoid overflows that could be seen on the Champs-Elysées or elsewhere after the victories of the Fennecs at the CAN, for "Give a beautiful image of Algeria". Tarek Gouache, the supporter of Noyelles-Godault, also wants to clarify: "Given the current context in France, I wanted to say that this is the first time that I leave my flag in the street; I am not a thug, nor a terrorist. " The evening went off without a hitch.
Inside the arena, to avoid the slightest incident, security was reinforced with a large presence of stewards (800) and an anti-intrusion barrier was installed all around the field. Coach Djamel Belmadi recalled that before landing at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, some cities refused to welcome the Greens. This match against Colombia "Was also a test, in a way, to see if things are going well. It's unfortunate to say that, but we had to show off today. Things went wellhe rejoices. We felt at home. We thought we were at home.
Some regretted that such a match is played in France, being indignant about the cruel lack of sports infrastructure worthy of the name in Algeria. " It's sad "they say, denouncing the carelessness of their state. And as often when we talk football with Algerians, politics is never far away. Supporters have repeatedly hummed the Casa del Mouradia, Who denounces the calamitous twenty years of the reign of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. A song that has become one of the "official anthems" of Hirak, the popular "movement" that has shaken Algeria for eight months.
"We take advantage of this rally to mobilize the Franco-Algerian youth to support the Algerian people who live under a dictatorship"
At the edge of the stadium, this revolution could be read on some banners: "For a civil and non-military state" ; "Free the prisoners of opinion" ; "No vote with the mafia of the generals". "We take advantage of this great gathering to raise awareness in the north of France and mobilize the Franco-Algerian youth to support the Algerian people living under a dictatorship"explains Youcef Ammar Khodja from the Pour une Algérie nouvelle collective. He and his comrades did not come from Paris to watch the match – they do not have tickets – but "For political action", distributing leaflets calling not to vote on December 12 in the presidential election.
With this win on the field and off, Djamel Belmadi would not be against going "Tomorrow, play in Marseille, Nice or Paris". The Villeneuve-d'Ascq experience is "To reproduce". He will always be able to count on the most important diaspora in France to fill the stadiums. As Bilal would say, a student from the Parisian suburbs: "Where there are Algerians, we are at home. "