The Cup match between Red Star FC and Olympique Marseille turned out to be a home game for Marseille. Each time they scored one of their five goals in Saturday’s match against Red Star FC, Stade de France witnessed an eruption of joy as the majority of the spectators were supporting l’OM. This is rather surprising as Stade de France is in St. Denis, just on the outskirts of Paris and at the same time it is not surprising at all.
For a start it was not Paris St. Germain playing against l’OM but Red Star FC 93, the oldest of the city’s clubs that has seen better times. Their ground, the Stade Bauer in St. Ouen just outside the Parisian peripherique holds only 3000 people and is too small but more importantly not in a state to host a game of this nature. If it had been PSG vs. l’OM the game would have surely been sold out and security measures tighter than they have been last Saturday.
[typography font=”Crimson Text” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Fight for Second Place in Paris[/typography]
Secondly, Red Star are aiming to be the second club in the French capital and Steve Marlet said so after the match, taking the 51000 people in the ground as proof that his club actually are the second team in Paris. Albeit, he tends to forget that the supporters of his club were a small minority and were even outnumbered by neutral observers it appeared.
Third, there is also Paris FC currently sitting mid-table in the third division just like Red Star but way above them in the table. Although they are not as rich in history as Red Star and in success as PSG, they are in the third division for some time now and appear to be an established side in ths division. Therefore to talk about becoming or being the second club in Paris is certainly Red Star’s aim but they are a long way from reaching that point. The engagement of Raymond Domenech in the club might change that but these are so far only rumours and nothing serious has come forward in this regard.
Finally, football in Paris is a very difficult issue. As the city is home to migrants from all over the world, it is difficult to locate a strong following among Parisians for their top club. Even for the last game in the Europa League in December against Athletic Bilbao there were only 37000 spectators at Parc des Princes, which has a capacity of 48000. In late 2010 it appeared as though fans of Borussia Dortmund outnumbered PSG supporters during their Europa League meeting.
[typography font=”Crimson Text” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Work to be done[/typography]
For Red Star to become Paris’ second club a lot of work has to be done first. The club has to be located in Paris for a start, otherwise there is little or no point in talking about that. There is the matter with the stadium. Their current ground is just a ruin and needs urgent replacing or repair. The Cup game on Saturday was the biggest crowd in the club’s history but progress would be made if next time round they’ll meet in Red Star’s own ground, somewhere near the Seine with a sold out stadium of 20000. At that point it might still be the same result as last weekend but it would not feel as Marseille 5 French capital 0 as it did at Stade de France. If anything, it felt as though the Marseille supporters took particular pride seeing their team putting five goals in the net against Paris, not necessarily Red Star FC 93, thus validating Hobsbawm’s quote of eleven named men representing an imagined community once more.