The Rayo Vallecano of Paris

The history of football will always remember Jules Rimet, or at least until 2022, as one of the main instigators of the creation of what we know today as the World Cup.. The lawyer, referee and former FIFA president became known within the French king sport many years before, specifically in 1897, at a time when the labor movement was beginning to stand out in the most inhospitable places of a Paris prepared for the historic Universal Exhibition in Paris of 1900 that would present the 20th century.

Rimet decided, together with a group of friends, to create the Red Star. He materialized it in the most natural way possible, in one of the mythical Parisian cafes that, unlike European ones, place their terraces facing the street so that the inhabitants of the French capital do not miss everything that happens around its roguish avenues. Located in the 7ème arrondisement (quarter in French), Rimet founded the club, but the name was baptized by an Englishman, Miss Jenny, who put “Red Star” not because it was a communist outfit from the start, but because Red Star Lines, a shipping company founded in 1871, was one of its early movers.

The Red Star does not strictly play in Paris. It does so in Saint-Ouen, a commune located in the Ile de France that is located a few kilometers from the French capital. In its beginnings, the club played on the Champs de Mars, that is, next to the Eiffel Tower. It was the beginning of a popular movement, since the main workers of the city went to one of the symbols of the 1900 Expo to enjoy clay football and to disconnect from the endless hours of work that prevailed at the time. The club not only meant a revolution in football, it was also social. It attracted the most disadvantaged people from the popular neighborhoods of Paris, promoted football as more than a sport and participated in social acts that balanced the great inequalities of the beginning of the 20th century in France.

However, the splendor of the time and the rage caused by seeing the Red Star every week in the 15ème arrondissement vanished in one fell swoop. Some real estate works, the same ones that have currently prevented him from expanding the capacity of the stadium due to the construction, by order of the City Council, of a block of buildings a few meters from the Bauer, and that prevent the most precious symbol of the Parisian institution from can accommodate a larger number of spectators. Those works, dedicated to the creation of a Velodrome for cycling competitions, marked the end of the first Red Star and the definitive uprising of the club against capitalism, which wanted to make Paris a city of the rich and not of the working class.

In purely football terms, the Red Star managed to establish itself during its first years of existence in the elite of French football. They won four French Cups until the Second World War and established themselves as one of the leading teams in Paris. The Second World War weighed down the club and the figure of Rino Della Negra, a member of the Red Star squad in 1942, champion of the Coupe de France and an active component of the French Resistance in World War II, was reborn. The Stade Bauer is currently with an area full of flowers, commemorating the anniversary of his death and giving name to one of the stands of one of the symbols of the French resistance to the Nazi invasion.. The stadium, the Bauer, was named in honor of Jean-Claude Bauer, a doctor, a declared communist who, during the collaborationist Vichy regime, confronted the Nazis and ended up executed.

The former president of the French Republic, François Hollande, was educated in Saint-Ouen. During his tenure in the Republic, the Executive visited the Red Star on several occasions to bless it as an example of multiculturalism and diversity, several of the premises that he tried to establish in the four years he was at the Eliseo. He did it when the team was, during the 2015-2016 season, the year in which the Parisian team was one step away from being promoted to Ligue 1, finishing 5th in Ligue 2 in a team that had players like Sliti, the Venezuelan Fernando Aristeguieta or the youth squad from Lyon, Xavier Chavalerin.

City Hall does not help.

The City Hall of Paris, specifically that of Saint-Ouen, is what can be represented as the greatest exponent that football is not interesting in France, or rather in Paris. The city, which has only one club in Ligue 1 (PSG), does not recognize Red Star as a team from the French capital. (it is logical, but to Paris FC, a team with a social mass infinitely lower than that of its counterparts, it gives the Stade Charlety, which is never full) and, because of the real estate bubble, it forced him to move to Saint-Ouen . Just when the Bauer wanted to remodel, La Marie de Saint-Ouen decreed the construction of a block of buildings attached to the stadium to avoid an extension of the stands. The curious thing about the City Council’s verdict is that most of the residents are not football fans and have to put up with the noise generated by the noisy stands of the Bauer every Monday.

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The LFP and the City Council have prevented Red Star from playing in a higher category in their emblematic stadium. Not meeting the necessary conditions to “guarantee security”, the club had to move to Jean-Bouin, a stadium attached to the Parc des Princes where the PSG women’s team regularly plays, or to Beauvais, better known for its airport than for football, to compete in the second division of French football. That rejection forced the club to mobilize and prepare the works, which are currently in process, for a renovation of the stands so as not to have to move any more from its sports venue.

Another proof of the little recognition of the Red Star in Paris is that the high levels of the Elysée promoted the creation of PSG in 1970 so that the capital could have a team in the first division of French football. Recognizing the Parisian team as the only one in the city was an insult to the Racing Club de France and, above all, for the Red Star, which never had the approval of the French Government due to its closeness to communism and anti-fascism. They were considered a problematic team and that is why, even today, they are still struggling administratively to receive the recognition they deserve.

The new Bauer, which will open in the 2023/2024 season, will house 10,000 spectators, will have an additional space, the “Box Bauer”, which will have shops, a shopping center and a business school in which young people will be trained that they play in the club and that, unfortunately, they cannot have the same future as those who do reach the first team through the quarry. However, all the remodeling contrasts with the group of fans with more attachment to the idiosyncrasy that has characterized the entity throughout history. The Red Star has been a club for popular neighborhoods and for the working class and converting it into a modern center with restaurants and boxes for wealthier people has caused the rejection of a significant part of the fans who flood the stands of a stadium that it is reminiscent of Vallecas because of the number of cracks that exist and because of the few renovations it has undergone throughout history. The fact of having carried the “Adidas” brand for several years, which has become an exponent of current marketing, since every time Red Star announces its new kits, the club is a Trending Topic on Twitter, It is another of the steps towards globalism that fans have not liked at all.

On Guardianin 2017, already showed the ins and outs of what Red Star is currently. The team helps other projects such as Rocket Paris, Hotel Radio Paris and it is promoted thanks to renowned photographers who show us, through black and white images, that fight and that pride that are identified with the hallmarks of the club. An institution that is friendly to its fans, which organizes meals to promote conciliation between the club and the fan, and which, moreover, has never raised the price of tickets due to economic needs to make it known that the team belongs to both the leaders and the fans. .

In the purely social, the Red Star has a loyal fan base, who have not stopped supporting their team regardless of the category in which they find themselves. It is the only club in France that, unlike most, has a bar in front of the stadium where meetings are organized before, during and after the match. The bar, known as “L’Olympic”, is full of stickers from different fan groups with which the Saint-Ouen team has teamed up. Even Spaniards, members of the Bukaneros group, assiduously go to see Red Star matches, as well as Sankt Pauli, the German club to which the identity of the greens could be compared, which is the color that predominates in the shirts

As for its lower categories, the Red Star is such a humble team that it does not have a youth academy at the professional level. The neighborhood boys, who dream of one day becoming soccer players, can wear the jerseys of their idols. Steve Marlet, a legendary former French player who was once the president of the entity, became one of the pioneers of the sports project that was one step away from being promoted to Ligue 1. This season, the club has registered, at a critical moment, especially for the results, the best influx of National, the third category of French football in which Red Star is 12th, just six points above relegation. The former Valencia player, Ludovic Butelle, is in a squad that is trained by Habib Beye, a Senegalese international who was part of that team that carried out a historic feat in 2002 against France in Korea and Japan. As much as they want to avoid it, the Red Star is more alive than ever and lights up the most inhospitable neighborhoods of unknown Saint-Ouen.

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