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The day was sanctuary in 2020 by a senatorial law: on May 5, we no longer play any football matches, in memory of the victims of the Furiani stadium. The journalist Jacques Vendroux was close to death in the collapse of the platform built in… eight days. It bent under the weight of the 10,000 spectators who came to take part in the Coupe de France Bastia-Marseille match. His dignified and strong testimony.

“I haven’t talked about it for a long time. I couldn’t. Too many questions, no answers. That was thirty years ago and I think about it every day. I hear an ambulance in the distance, I think about it. I meet a paraplegic, I think about it. We can tell all we want, be the strongest, the most beautiful, have a wife, children, grandchildren, nothing will make us forget this story.

That evening, I have to comment on the semi-final of the Coupe de France Bastia-Marseille for France Inter. At the podium, I do not notice anything. It moved a little, no more… I remember the technician’s last words in Paris: ‘You open at 8:30 p.m.’ After that, nothing. The seven people sitting to my left are dead. Same fate for the seven on my right. The technician who accompanied me, Michel Mottier, is also lifeless.

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Their life stopped at Furiani on the evening of a disaster on Tuesday.

© O.Sanchez/Sipa

For this Bastia-Marseille clash, the leaders of the Bastia club decided, in order to fit out 10,000 additional seats, to replace the old stand in less than a week with temporary bleachers resembling giant scaffolding.

For this Bastia-Marseille clash, the leaders of the Bastia club decided, in order to fit out 10,000 additional seats, to replace the old stand in less than a week with temporary bleachers resembling giant scaffolding.

© ERIC CABANIS / AFP

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Bastia in the semi-final of the Coupe de France at home, it was a dream. But the event turns into a nightmare

Lying on the ground, I alternate between the phases of awakening and coma. Powerless, I see a guy take my satchel, my bracelet, my chain and my cross. Three days later, he comes to the hospital to bring them to me. It was Jeannot Vincenti, a former Bastia player from the 1960s and 1970s. He recognized me and wanted to protect me from thefts. We saw each other again twenty-five years later in Ajaccio, we kissed but we didn’t say a word. We could not.

Hospitalized in Bastia, I was repatriated in absolute urgency to the Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris, thanks to Professor Léon Schwartzenberg, a friend. I was 44 years old and had two children: Clémentine, 6, and Baptiste, 1, who took his first steps in the hospital corridor. At night I cried thinking he would have another father if I died. My mother and father, already very ill, left Calais for a seedy hotel opposite the hospital to see me every day. Michel Platini was also very present. On Sundays, when I was on leave, I went either to my house or to his, in Saint-Cloud.

To horror, they oppose the surge of solidarity.  Surviving spectators, firefighters, CRS and rescue workers will take hours to pull the victims out of the metal trap of the collapsed grandstand.

To horror, they oppose the surge of solidarity. Surviving spectators, firefighters, CRS and rescue workers will take hours to pull the victims out of the metal trap of the collapsed grandstand.

© ERIC CABANIS / AFP

On May 5, 1992, French football experienced the worst tragedy in its history.

On May 5, 1992, French football experienced the worst tragedy in its history.

© SIPA

The collapse of the north stand will leave 19 dead and 2,357 injured

I often think of the dead and the paralyzed. Since that day, I have a debt. I wanted to surpass myself more. To do things that are out of the ordinary, to honor this chance to have stayed alive. I wanted the listeners to be happy… I didn’t stay in contact with any victims. As I never got involved in the trial. It was painful enough as it was, I didn’t want to come back to the arena.

Thirty years later, I still haven’t set foot in Bastia, let alone Furiani. I’m not ready. I would love to, though. One day I will go, surrounded by people I love. No one will know.”

Olympique de Marseille player Jean-Pierre Papin, shortly before the north stand collapsed.  He will put his tracksuit jacket in a ball under the head of an injured person, Didier Grassi, commentator from Bastia on a local radio, who will become a member of the collective of victims.

Olympique de Marseille player Jean-Pierre Papin, shortly before the north stand collapsed. He will put his tracksuit jacket in a ball under the head of an injured person, Didier Grassi, commentator from Bastia on a local radio, who will become a member of the collective of victims.

© TOUSSAINT CANAZZI / AFP

A few minutes before the tragedy, Bernard Tapie, Minister of the City and boss of Olympique de Marseille, discusses with the president of SC Bastia, Jean-François Filippi.  The latter will be shot on December 26, 1994, at dawn in front of his house in Lucciana, by a sniper.

A few minutes before the tragedy, Bernard Tapie, Minister of the City and boss of Olympique de Marseille, discusses with the president of SC Bastia, Jean-François Filippi. The latter will be shot on December 26, 1994, at dawn in front of his house in Lucciana, by a sniper.

© TOUSSAINT CANAZZI / AFP

Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Bastia.  Among the 19 dead, supporters, journalists, a firefighter, whose helmet rests on the coffin.

Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Bastia. Among the 19 dead, supporters, journalists, a firefighter, whose helmet rests on the coffin.

© Bruno Bachelet / Paris Match


* The journalist joined Europe 1 in December 2021.

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