In the midst of the African Cup of Nations, the Institute of the Arab World in Paris presents until July 21st an exhibition entitled “Football and the Arab world”.

It is by the colonial period that the visit starts. Forgotten younger generations, Larbi Ben Barek – the one that Pelé said in 1960: “If I’m the king of football, then Ben Barek is the god” – is the first guide we meet at the Institute of the world Arabic (IMA). Born in Casablanca, at the time under French protectorate, “the black pearl” played successively for the French team, especially during the 1934 World Cup in the fascist Italy of Mussolini, then for Africa. North a few years later, against the France team. His exploits under the French jersey did not protect him from racial hatred, or mockery of his social origins, as evidenced by the clippings of the time, exhumed for the occasion.

Cairo, “Arab Football Capital”

This role of federator that can have this sport has also resurfaced in recent history with the victory of the 1998 World Cup by the team of France. To recount this rise in power, the exhibition traces the evolution of its perception in French public opinion, from one star to another, between the “black, white, butter” of 1998 and the “we are all A selection of images is also about the fiasco of the France-Algeria match of October 6, 2001, when President Jacques Chirac had, at the time of the anthems, launched a “That whistle? I am leaving “. That day, the show ended with an invasion of the field by Algerian supporters.

Because, at the stadium, the bleachers tell also sometimes quite long. Witness the football matches of the Egyptian championship, in camera. Even in Cairo, yet “Arab football capital”. This mistrust of football fans by the Egyptian authorities is measured by the role of the ultras in the “Arab Spring”, consecrated by a chapter of the exhibition.


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