From a joke launched in a discussion between friends was born the French Federation of Lose (FFL), a satirical page making fun of the great defeats of French sport. Its founders are releasing a book which retraces with panache the great history of the almost victories.
“The French don’t lose more than the others, but they lose better.” From the introduction of the “Bible of the lose of French sport” (ed. Marabout, € 29.90), the tone is set. Here, we refuse to celebrate the winners. We prefer the losers, the big defeats, the empty-handed returns that have built part of the sport’s legend.
We also find the tone and the sharp pen of the French Federation of Lose – FFL for close friends. This satirical and subtitled page “The defeat is in us”, created in 2015 and which, every day, highlights the small blunders and the big crackings of the French athletes. An adventure now followed by 246,000 people on Twitter, 518,506 subscribers on Facebook and 105,000 on Instagram.
🇫🇷🏆 THE BIBLE DE LA LOSE DU SPORT FRANÇAIS 🏆🇫🇷
240 PAGES TO RELIVE MORE THAN 120 YEARS OF LOSE À LA FRANÇAISE 😍
– Our advice to become a magnificent loser
– Dozens of FFL sports anecdotes
– Preface by Thibaut Pinot ♥ ️
– Fédé 🇫🇷 de la Lose (@FFLose) October 8, 2021
“France has this panache, this ‘French Touch’ as they say in rugby. We do not lose in anonymity. We lose with the heart, when we dig, it’s always incredible,” explains Antoine Declercq, co-founder of the FFL. “During Euro-2020 football, we could have simply lost this eighth against Switzerland 1-0 at the end of a not very interesting game. We preferred this incredible scenario … [3-3 au bout du temps règlementaire avec deux buts encaissés en fin de match par la France et 4-5 aux tab].”
From pints of beer to success
Antoine Declerq and Louis Roulet, two of the founders of the FFL, rewind the thread of its history for France 24: “The adventure began with a bunch of friends who love sport. By dint of discussions and pints, we ended by concluding that we were a country that loves to complain and take pleasure in defeat. It is almost a pleasure to rehash them “, remembers Antoine Declerq. “We grew up hearing our parents talk more about the Seville 1982 drama, rather than the Euro-1984 victory; Fignon’s eight seconds [contre Lemond en 1989] rather than his two Tour victories or those of Hinault. “
“We tried to create a blog, but in the end it worked better in the form of a Facebook page. We started by making our friends laugh and, finally, it exploded with the Rio Games in 2016. We then went on Twitter and Instagram. We created a website and finally, the book is the next logical step to arrive in bookstores with a tangible object. “
The band of thirty is too young to remember the founding defeats, whether it be Seville (1982), the square posts of Glasgow (1976) or even Kostadinov, who in 1993 deprived the French of the 1994 World Cup in the States -United.
Antoine Declercq’s first significant “lose” was in 2002. That year, France, the reigning world champion, presented themselves in Asia as arch-favorite of the World Cup held in Korea. South and Japan, and with an attack made up of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet and Djibril Cissé – the top scorers in the English, Italian and French championships -, and the two-star jerseys are already printed and the advertisements are going well. Alas, the Korean campaign turns into a fiasco with two defeats, a draw and not a single goal scored.
The eternal French who can win
For Louis, it is the following World Cup, in 2006, which represents his first experience of “losing”. That year, Zidane, out of retirement, walks on the water and takes France to the final. And there, it is the drama: the French Ballon d’Or is expelled following a ball strike on Materazzi and the Italians win on penalties, after a missed penalty from Trezeguet. The chalice is bitter for Louis, on vacation at the southern tip of Corsica, who sees fireworks being fired from neighboring Sardinia.
“It was a very FFL experience,” recalls Louis. “I was 10 years old and it was the first time I cried for football. I can see myself wearing my little FFF cap with a star.”
“Overall, we are especially of a generation to whom we repeat that every year is the right one: ‘a Frenchman is going to do something at Roland-Garros’, ‘a Frenchman will finally win the Tour de France’. . We laugh a lot at this media hope present at each event “, describes Antoine.
From the Paris Olympics in 1900 to Mbappé’s missed penalty during the last Euro, the Bible written by these defeat aficionados lists the glorious losers in 240 pages. Everything goes: from the missed penalty from Trezeguet in 2006 to the too early raising of arms by Julian Alaphilippe on Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2020, through a tribute to the favorite technical gesture (and almost ritual) of Benoit Paire: the breaking of racket.
Athletes who make them feel good. The cyclists Pierre Rolland and Julian Alaphilippe welcomed the release of the book. Others demand FFL membership card in memorable defeats. Benoît Paire himself once proclaimed himself ambassador of the Fédé de la Lose.
“With less bad luck, I would be a little less popular today”
“In general, we don’t have a problem with the athletes. Often, they have the second degree and laugh with us. Otherwise, they just ignore us. It’s the fans who are sometimes rather virulent,” smiles Antoine. “We are not insulting, we try not to be malicious. We are not very benevolent either: our job is still to laugh at the misfortune of others.”
It is also a well-known cyclist who signs the preface of the book: Thibaut Pinot, one of the greatest French climbers of his generation, whose career is a concentrate of FFL: incredible low, like this abandonment of the Giro 2018 on pneumonia as the podium stretched out its arms to him. Oucelui in 2019 on the Tour de France when the yellow jersey was at hand.
“It is possible that with less bad luck, I would be a little less popular today. very low, “he wrote, recalling that” humor and self-deprecation are the most effective remedies for digesting major disappointments.
He recalls that he has the double penalty of being a supporter of PSG, a club which has entered the pantheon of the FFL between “remountada”, “comeback”, 3-5-1 and other improbable scenarios in the Ligue des champions.
At the start of 2020, the FFL offered itself a new challenge: to structure itself to become a full-fledged professional activity. Antoine and Louis cease their other respective activities to devote themselves to this one full time. Between the Euro and the Olympic Games, the period was favorable … The Covid-19 will make this much more “FFL”.
Between the partnerships with the brands, the online store, the advertisements and its great popularity, the brand is doing well economically.
“From now on, it’s the hideout. We no longer suffer. When we watch an event, we are winners in any case. If a Frenchman crashes at the last moment, it will be good for the FFL and, if he wins, I am going to jump for joy personally and the FFL will take the opposite view by excluding it from the Federation “, laughs Louis. “We’re pretty cowardly after all.”
What about the future? “We would like not to laugh about athletes anymore, but to laugh with them. People like athletes capable of self-deprecation and we would like to develop that.” Maybe on video. Maybe not. Because this is the DNA of the FFL: the improbable can always occur.