Football. 30 years after the Furiani drama, reconciliation increases.

Thirty years after “the worst disaster in French sport”, the 19 dead and 2,357 injured in the collapse of a grandstand at the Furiani stadium in Bastia, in shock to OM, the reconciliation peaks with the freezing of matches on May 5. in French leagues.

On May 5, 1992, the north stand of Furiani’s Armand-Cesari Stadium collapsed.


Paradox: this year, before the law comes into force, a match will be organized on Thursday 5 May between Olympique de Marseille and the Dutch national team of Feyenoord Rotterdam. But it will be in the context of a European event, in the semi-finals of the Europa League conference, and the collective of victims believes it has achieved its “main goal” by sanctifying this day in the future.

“This is where the sun sets and the atmosphere rises”…

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

At the top of this temporary grandstand, almost 20 meters high, the reporter prepared to comment on the semi-final of the Coupe de France between Bastia and OM. Around him sat 8,000 people. A few minutes before kick-off, Marseille stars Jean-Pierre Papin, Basile Boli, Abedi Pelé or Chris Waddle were still in the dressing room.

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

“Peaceful” commemorations

“This year it is quite symbolic and special commemorations,” said Josepha Guidicelli, the president of the victims’ collective. That day she lost her father, Jean-Pierre Guidicelli, also a journalist.

“Symbolic”, because “this is the 30th anniversary of the tragedy”, and “special (….) because there was a law on October 14 that froze the matches if it falls on May 5”.

This request not to play football matches in Ligue 1, Ligue 2, Coupe de France and Trophée des Champions on May 5, finally approved by Parliament, “was very important to us”, recalls the one who was 4 years old on the day of the tragedy: “This struggle that took ten years to succeed” was the collective’s main demand.

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

Until now, the victims have tirelessly encountered the reluctance of the professional football league and the French Football Federation (FFF), who are ashamed of the organization of their competitions. As a result, these will be “much more peaceful, much more serene commemorations,” Ms Guidicelli insisted.

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

collective memory

“We play a bit of bad luck and bad luck”, admits Ms Guidicelli: but “our request related to national competitions played in France” and “our main goal has been achieved with this law”. The Public Prosecution Service, which has asked UEFA to be able to do ‘something’ on the day of the match, is still waiting for an answer.

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

A film about the disaster will be shown on Wednesday at the Armand-Cesari Stadium, then a theatrical creation based on testimonies from the victims in the Bastia Theater will be played on Friday.

Finally, because “we ask everyone to hold on to this story so as not to forget it”, explains Ms. Guidicelli, a conference on the theme “from the trauma of Furiani to today’s collective memory” will be presented on Saturday morning by a psychiatrist and a psychologist in Bastia.


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