In Les Moulins, a district of Nice where many inhabitants have origins in the Maghreb countries, football fans have “the swinging heart“before Wednesday’s World Cup 2022 semi-final between France and Morocco, which promises to be passionate and heartbreaking.
“Morocco will win because we are strong and we trust our coach Walid Regragui“: Smaïl Zriouin, the Moroccan baker from “Fournil des Moulins” is categorical.
Its bakery overlooks the under-construction Amaryllis square, nicknamed “the old one” because one of the few to have survived a major urban renewal program in this district of around 7,800 inhabitants.
On Saturday night, it was the scene of a few incidents between youth and police after the qualifiers from Morocco and then France.
A little further down, women, some of whom wear veils, chat between the municipal swimming pool and the nursery.
“I was born in Nice and I am of Algerian origin. If it was France / Algeria, I would be 90% for Algeria. Here I am 50/50“, explains Wardah H, 44, who does not want to give his full name.
“Our Heart Swings”
“It gets hot because we are French but of North African origin. Our heart flutters because France is the country that welcomed our parents“, adds Sarah A, 36, of Tunisian origin.
In this “popular and sensitive” district, where uncertainty is strong and where “400 families are followed by the solidarity merchant“, according to Karim Ben Ahmed, elected municipal official and director of the association Help with homework animation des Moulins (Adam), there are few signs announcing this historic semi-final for an African nation.
Only a Moroccan flag is visible, hanging on the balcony of the 14th and last floor of one of the many towers that line the Avenue de la Méditerranée.
this district”live and breathe football“, the most important sporting activity in the area, explains Abdou Djadi, former player of the Association Sportif des Moulins.
On the synthetic turf of Nice Stadium, “remade three months ago”, Farid, the goalkeeper “of Algerian origin”, shows the portraits made by a painter from the neighborhood: Maradona, Zidane and, of course, Nice’s child, Hugo Lloris, goalkeeper and captain of the blue.
“Not choosing between mother and father”
Always ready to ignite the round ball, the district can also literally ignite. On Saturday evening, young people set off fireworks and set fire to rubbish bins and an apartment after the victories of France and Morocco. They attacked police officers who came to protect the firefighters in the intervention, and a police officer was wounded in the hand, according to the prefecture.
Until Wednesday”there will be a device in Nice as in Cannes, in all the districts where it is justified. We will necessarily pay attention to Moulins”, states Benoît Huber, chief of staff of the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes, interviewed by AFP.
“It is about thirty young people making a mess *”, laments Karim Ben Ahmed, whose association Adam on Wednesday evening will still mobilize its mediators and for whom “the young people who celebrate must do so in peace”.
“These overflows are disappointing. The values of sport are to live togethere”, adds Abdelhakim Madi, 22, who received the award “Prodigy of the Republic” in 2019 for his engagement with young people through his association, “Partage ton talent”.
” VSThis Moroccan semi-final is the pride of all Africa, he adds. But I, although I am of Moroccan origin, I am French and grew up in France, so I will not be able to choose between my mother and my father, as Jamel Debbouze says.
Mr. Ben Ahmed, “French born in Nice of Moroccan parents”, will proclaim him “Come on Les Bleus and good game to Moroccan family and friends!”.