Coupe de France: The underdogs.
Our photographer from France is Sébastien Couix, originally from Marseille and now living in Nantes (via Scotland and Paris). Sébastien is the founder of PKFoot.com, writing about football culture from the fan perspective, and manages an influencer agency. He believes Bastia will soon win the Champions League! Sébastien took photos at the famous 2018 French Cup semi final in Nantes between amateur sides Chambly and Les Herbiers.
Who is in the photos? Where were the photos taken?
These are fans from Chambly (black and blue) and Les Herbiers (red and black) during the French Cup semi final. Both are amateur teams who came from nowhere, and Les Herbiers made it through to the Final against Paris Saint-Germain. They played the semi final in Nantes (Stade de la Beaujoire of FC Nantes), the nearest big city and stadium (and my city).
What did you try to show with the photos?
I went to the stadium two hours before the game, as I knew that fans from Les Herbiers would arrive with six buses. In front of the stadium, there are a lot of food stalls. The stadium is not that well equipped, and should be rebuilt in the near future.
Are there any stories connected with the people or teams you photographed?
People from "Les Herbiers" come from Vendée, a region better known for farmers than for football. Chambly is near Paris, and their Founder died a few hours after their qualification from the quarterfinal.
Why is football so important for France and French people?
The Coupe de France (French national cup) is very famous here. It is the only way to see unknown teams battle against professionals, and they often make it to the Final, such as Calais in 2000. Another crazy story is that Les Herbiers qualified for the Final...but then got relegated from the third division the week after the Final – a terrible week for them.
What is your favourite shot?
The fan with the flag plugged into his neck. I didn't see it before I took the shot!
What role does football play in France and French society?
French people have been proud of their football since 1998 and our World Cup title. Before that, we were well known for always losing, so fans always remembered the "bad moments" of their teams. In 1998 we saw that football is the best way to see the success of the country's immigration through the years.
What does football mean to you?
Football has become a job for me, a loophole, a point of comparison in everyday life, a way to identify, to suffer and to be proud at the same time. I learned how to love football without the field. More than just a sport, it's those moments and emotions that I chase.