What is striking when you leaf through the fourth issue of the journal Football notebooks (1) is the form. Photos of jubilation for the victory at the 2018 World Cup or of the forest planted on the lawn of an Austrian stadium, clear and warm infographics – like these Elo rankings, like the chess players, of 16 French coaches – , visuals that accompany the zakouskis delivered throughout the 180 pages … The success of a magazine often depends on an alchemy between form and content. The file on French football illustrates this success. For example, we are hypnotized by this double page of “reliquaries”, where objects, moments (moped by Basile Boli, curb chain by Mickaël Madar, stirrer by Laurent Blanc…) are named without context. Then we are immersed in this panorama of training in France or this offensive story on the problems of French coaches, signed Nicolas Dumont and Christophe Kuchly. And we emerge from these fifty pages devoted to tricolor football with fatalism or a desire to explode everything, it depends.

Read also “Les Cahiers du foot”, a review of a pioneer

Two major interviews give character to the number. The genius Francesco Totti first tells about his relationship with Rome, his career, his successes, his aborted transfer to Real Madrid… Eric Carrière, him, gives his vision of the position of number 10, and how we become it. This interview was also carried out on the occasion of the exciting Odyssey of the 10th, by Raphaël Cosmidis, Philippe Gargov, Christophe Kuchly and Julien Momont (2). Authors close to the team of Football notebooks who also use here the interviews of a choreographer, a chef and an orchestra conductor questioned on the playmakers in their profession. “Number 10 doesn’t speak, he plays. The ideal conductor does not speak either: it is by playing with others that he transmits information ”, explains, for example, Maxime Pascal, who co-created operas by Stockhausen.

School of writing and thought

The humor that is acidic, subtle or fits in Notebooks arise as transitions between serious papers. The governing bodies of football or the mainstream media take it for their rank, but always in the register of the structured criticism of a football that the magazine would like to see changed. Surprising, too, this double page on well-known brands revisited with club names (special mention to Inter Milan in the colors of the Intermarché logo) or, further, these football tables inspired by Mondrian or Matisse.

The review ends with a long report on Neapolitan football, its supporters, its neighborhood stadiums, its places. “I do not understand that we can love the club without loving Naples, it would be like rejecting the soul to retain only the body”, says Alessandro, a resident of the southern city. A paper by Hind Boukhatem which is the prelude to a book, on the same subject or almost, in preparation. Worn for more than twenty years in particular by Jérôme Latta, Football Notebooks are as much a school of writing and thought as a separate vision of the round ball in France. And the flagship represented by its magazine offers aficionados of this sport the opportunity to navigate the more turbulent and complex waters of their passion.

(1) 18 euros, https://www.popandkop.com/revue-cahiers-du-foot_c43.html.

(2) ed. Solar (2019), 496 pp. € 17.90.

Damien Dole