They traveled hours by bus to experience their first European thrills of the 2023-2024 financial year, after being banned from traveling to Athens during the 3rd preliminary round first leg of the Champions League against Panathinaikos (0-1). Coming from all over France for the most part, and a few from neighboring countries, there are more than 2,000 of them who form an impressive human tide in the Amsterdam city center.
It is 6:15 p.m. at Dam Square, in front of the city’s imposing Royal Palace, when Olympian sympathizers gather after enjoying the surrounding bars. Under a light rain, the leaders of the ultra groups lead the march, without the unifying “Marseille” tarpaulin as is traditionally the case during European trips.
No comments on the current crisis
A few minutes earlier, the Fanatics, Marseille Trop Puissant, South Winners, Dodgers, the HandiFan Club OM and the Club des amis de l’OM – only the Ultras are missing – published a joint press release in which they renewed their grievances against management. In the ranks, silence is required, including off-air, the slogan is shared by all without prior consultation: no one wishes to express themselves on the crisis which is currently shaking the Provençal institution.
“The context is too tense. Even anonymously, I do not wish to express myself,” whispers a blue and white sympathizer when another timidly blurts out: “I still hope that Pablo Longoria will stay. » “Social networks and media tension don’t help. On Twitter (henceforth “X”), you can read everything and its opposite: everyone makes their comment without proof. In the end, few really know what it is about,” underlines an internal source.
Caps and bucket hats, black jackets, sunglasses and OM jerseys scattered here and there, the dress code of the day anonymizes the crowd. Difficult to discern the simple lambdas of association members, only a few larger isolated groups make it possible to distinguish the whole.
The return of the round ball in exchanges
All eyes are on the field and that’s good, OM begins its European journey in the Europa League this Thursday evening (9 p.m.), a few days after its insipid draw against Toulouse (0-0). “We will see what Pancho (Jacques Abardonado, appointed interim coach in place of Marcelino, who resigned) will concoct for us this evening (Thursday evening) but we are waiting for a reaction from the players. So far, they haven’t shown much character. It was very average in Nantes (1-1) and against Toulouse (0-0), even if the start of the season is not catastrophic, we expect more from them. In any case, we came to support them, that’s the most important thing,” says a supporter from Moselle, while OM faces the other top group in Group B, Ajax Amsterdam, who are also going through a period of floating.
Gradually, the football returns to the fore and the departure of the procession towards the central station takes place with rhythm and enthusiasm. A few smoke bombs are set off, firecrackers explode and songs resonate in the capital of the Netherlands under the amused gaze of the locals. Scrupulously supervised by the club stewards and the Dutch police, the column advances at a relatively brisk pace before entering the metro. Head to Strandvliet station and its jewel. Nestled on the upper floor in a quarter turn, the groups hang up their tarpaulins as the Ajax venue fills up. Time for a football break in a hectic week, and it feels good.
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