The French Football Federation Celebrates 100 Years

Football Sport
The French Football Federation celebrates 100 years

The FFF was born April 7, 1919 and contributed to the creation of many cuts, including the Coupe de France, the World Cup and the Euro.

Born of a marriage of reason between laïcards and cathos on April 7th, 1919, the French Football Federation celebrates one hundred years , marked by the Coupe de France, the formation of young talents and the invention of great competitions … it has it took time to win.

The birth was sluggish

The birth was sluggish, because at the beginning of the 20th century, French football was divided into several organisations, each managing its own competitions, amid a quarrel between secular radicals and religious patronage.

“Our great family is finally constituted,” writes in a baptismal announcement the Secretary General Henri Delaunay in the body of the FFFA (football association, his first name).

“We realised the dream of ‘soccers’: football to footballers. It was not without pain alas, but by dint of pulling the cart we have still decamped, “says one who will remain one of the great men of this century-old adventure, with Jules Rimet (president from 1919 to 1947 ) and Fernand Sastre (1972-1984).

The “football association”, or “assoce”, took the popular ascendancy on his brother, “rugby football” at the beginning of the twentieth century, the great adventure of French football can begin.

Portrait of Frenchman Jules Rimet, FIFA
Portrait of the President of the International Football Federation (FIFA), the Frenchman Jules Rimet, taken in the 20s .. (© AFP / Archives / STAFF) Portrait of the President of the International Football Federation (FIFA), the Frenchman Jules Rimet , taken in the 20s)

The Coupe de France, “tradition invented”

Two years earlier, the birth of the Coupe de France (the first victory in 1918 of the Olympique de Pantin, then absorbed by the Red Star) already augured this reunification.

This tournament, “rare model in continental Europe, will play an important role for the popularity of football, and will also be a source of income for the FFF,” says football historian Paul Dietschy, a professor at the AFP. University of Franche-Comté.

Modelled on the English Cup, it allows all clubs in the country to participate in a very democratic format, a knockout tournament to the last two survivors for the final.

The Coupe de France belongs to what the English historian Eric Hobsbawm calls “invented traditions, which play a preeminent role in the constitution of this relatively recent innovation that is the nation,” he writes.

Logo of the Coupe de France
Logo of the Coupe de France, Paris, October 30, 2018. (© French Football Federation / AFP / Archives / HO)

The paternity of the World Cup and the Euro

Driven by a “universalist vision of football”, the FFF participated in “the globalisation of football,” says Dietschy in his “History of football” (Perrin, 2010), including the birth of the World Cup (1930 ) and the Euro (1960).

The “3F” also lived through his great men, Jules Rimet, who was also that of FIFA (1921-1954) and father of the World Cup, and Henri Delaunay, Secretary General (1919-1954), creator of the European Championship and founder of UEFA.

The World Cup trophy was named Jules Rimet from 1950 until 1970, when Brazil won it for the third time. The winner of the Euro always raises the Henri Delaunay trophy.

“If the FFF has shone by its leaders, it has struggled to build a competitive model,” says Paul Dietschy, who recalls that France does not harvest its first laurels in 1984, the Olympic gold and the Euro, before the 1998 and 2018 World Cups and the Euro-2000.

Fernand Sastre, President of the French Football Federation
Fernand Sastre (left), President of the French Football Federation, with coach Georges Boulogne during the semi-final of the 1982 World Cup between East Germany and France, in Seville, Spain. July 8th. (© AFP / File / -)

French training, a model

These successes crown a school of football “à la française” thought at the beginning of the 1970s, in the hollow of the wave. The clubs are ridiculous in cups of Europe, France was humiliated in 1968 by the amateurs of Norway in Strasbourg (1-0) and will miss the World cups 1970 and 1974.

“Very early on, the FFF promoted youth football, with the help of young footballers organised in 1930,” explains the historian.

But from 1972 the third great leader of the 3F, Fernand Sastre, president from 1972 to 1984, will initiate the excellence of the French formation with coach Georges Boulogne, coach of the Bleus from 1969 to 1973.

The network of football schools is being set up, followed by the training centers of French clubs, supported by the FFF.

“France will start to win with the exodus of its players, very well trained but lacking the experience of victory,” concluded Dietschy. The second centenary started well with the triumph of Moscow.

French Football Association celebrates 100 years
Born of a marriage of reason between laïcards and cathos April 7, 1919, the French Football Federation celebrates its 100 years. (© AFP / Archives / LIONEL BONAVENTURE)

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