Football screamed in May 1968

May 1968 is not one more month in the history of France. It was the students who started the revolts, but this discontent was gradually joined by all sectors of society. Each group had its own objective of the protest and football set its sights on the French Football Federation (FFF).

The former madridista gave a good account of this discomfort among the footballers Raymond Kopa, in 1963. On July 4 of that year he published an article in the France Dimanche demanding minimum rights for footballers. It was not the first time that the greatest players had fought for all their teammates. Two years earlier, the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) had been created with Just Fontaine or Eugen N'Jo Lea at the head, top-level players. The title of Kopa's writing, Players are slaves, already hinted at the intensity of his words: “Today, in the middle of the 20th century, the professional soccer player is the only human being who can be sold and bought without having his opinion”. This message made a huge impact and was a great inspiration for what would be unleashed in '68.

On May 22, just over a month after the first protest of this time, soccer raised its voice. Amateur level footballers, some Red Star professionals and, especially, journalists from the Miroir du Football, a magazine close to the French Communist Party and the movement that was taking place in Paris, took over the headquarters of the FFF at number 60 bis, a facade through which all tourists who want to go from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower pass. , or vice versa, by the straightest line possible. To the literary phrases “let's be realistic, ask for the impossible” or “forbidden to prohibit” that served as a slogan that spring, sport contributed the phrase “Soccer for footballers”, which shouted a banner hanging from balcony to balcony on the first floor and which Platini had as leitmotiv during his UEFA presidency.

Far from the level of tension and violence that existed on other fronts of the city, that was a peaceful occupation. Pierre Delaunay, secretary general, and George Boulogne, national instructor, were locked in a room. Apart from the aforementioned banner, the phrase was also hung “The Federation, owned by 600,000 footballers” on the second floor. Meanwhile, at street level, leaflets of the Soccer Players Action Committee Program were distributed with the demands.

“Like the workers occupy their factories. Like the students occupy their Faculties. Why? To give back to the 600,000 French soccer players and their millions of friends what belongs to them: soccer, which the Federation pontiffs have expropriated to serve their selfish interests to obtain economic benefit “. Then five main points of its manifestation were listed. One of the most important was 3, in which License B was denounced. This rule forced footballers to be linked to the club with which they signed their first professional contract until the age of 35 in appalling conditions, sometimes with a salary below the minimum. Something unimaginable in 2020.

In point 5, and in relation to what was described in the previous paragraph, Kopa's words were mentioned years ago: “(The Federation) mocks the human dignity of the professionals by maintaining the slave contracts denounced by Kopa and whose illegality was recognized, a year ago, by Sadoul”. The latter was the president of the League.

The Federation takeover ended when the Grenelle Accords were signed, for which the minimum wage was raised by 35%. Soccer also made great strides and the hated License B was canceled. Cruyff or Bosman would fight years later in the same line of defense of the rights of soccer players.