Coupe de France: Toulouse crowned champion against Nantes, without incident at the Stade de France

The context promised to be tense, but the final of the 106th edition of the Coupe de France football remained in the realm of celebration, Saturday April 29 at the Stade de France

Coupe de France: Toulouse crowned champion against Nantes, without incident at the Stade de France

The context promised to be tense, but the final of the 106th edition of the Coupe de France football remained in the realm of celebration, Saturday April 29 at the Stade de France. Toulouse Football Club won France's oldest football competition for the first time since 1957, leaving defending champions FC Nantes no chance. Final score: 5 to 1.

Eleven months after the security fiasco of the Champions League final, it was the first time that a final of a football competition took place again in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis). Some 3,000 police and gendarmes were mobilized around the Stade de France, 1,000 more than for the final between the English of Liverpool and the Spaniards of Real Madrid.

This meeting worried the authorities, who feared fights because of the antagonism between certain fringes of supporters of the two clubs, but no major incident was reported on the sidelines of the meeting.

In addition, this final took place in a tense social context. The Paris police headquarters had banned the rally planned by unions near the stadium, deeming it "likely to create a disturbance to public order". A ban canceled by a decision of the administrative court of Paris, Saturday around 5 p.m. The Seine-Saint-Denis inter-union was therefore able to distribute red cards and whistles at the exit of metro and RER stations located near the Stade de France to encourage spectators to express their opposition to the recently adopted pension reform.

Unlike the previous edition (1-0 victory for Nantes against Nice), the President of the Republic did not descend on the lawn of the Dionysian enclosure. Present in the stands alongside Philippe Diallo, the acting president of the French Football Federation, Emmanuel Macron greeted the players in the entrance hall of the stadium before the match. If the images were broadcast live by France Télévisions, they were not broadcast on the giant screens of the Stade de France.

Lethal efficiency of Toulouse

In the 49th minute of the match, few whistles sounded in the stands despite the call from the unions. On the pitch, the fate of the final was already cast. At half-time, Toulouse were indeed leading 4-0. You have to go back to 1955 to find traces of such a prolific first period in the history of the finals of the competition. In the southern corner of the Stade de France, the 20,000 Violets supporters took the time to savor the victory before celebrating the coronation in communion with players who were all discovering the Dionysian enclosure.

Four chances, four goals: Philippe Montanier's side showed lethal efficiency to build their success in the first half hour. Branco van den Boomen first brushed a corner into the box. With a whim, Logan Costa gave goalkeeper Alban Lafont no chance (1-0, 4ᵉ). Bis repeated two minutes later: the Dutch midfielder took a free kick across the field and, after a throw-in from Stijn Spierings, the Cape Verdean international defender doubled the lead with a header (2-0, 10ᵉ).

The Nantes then react through Mustafa Mohamed, whose shot is cleared on the line by Gabriel Suazo. But when the Canaries take position in the opposing camp, the Toulousains drive the point home: Gabriel Suazo progresses on his left side and delivers a marvelous pass – too short for the goalkeeper, too deep for the defender – towards Thijs Dallinga, who concludes with a stung ball (3-0, 23ᵉ).

Like Logan Costa, the Dutchman in turn offers himself a double on the lookout for a strike from Farès Chaïbi pushed back in his feet by Alfan Lafont, the Nantes goalkeeper trained… in Toulouse (4-0, 31ᵉ ). In the second half, the penalty converted by Ludovic Blas with a full-throttle strike will barely give the Canaries fans time to dream of a crazy comeback (4-1, 75ᵉ). In the aftermath, Zakaria Aboukhlal shook the Nantes nets for the fifth time thanks to a powerful strike, countered by Jean-Charles Castelletto (5-1, 79ᵉ). The last act of a one-sided evening.

"We marked the history of the club", rejoiced the Toulousain Logan Costa, author of a double, at the end of the match. Carried away by emotion, Farès Chaïbi, who is playing his first professional season in 2022-2023, said at the microphone of France 2 "not realizing" that he was "champion of France".

Uncertainty over participation in the Europa League

Winners of the previous edition against Nice, the Nantes residents missed their subject. "When we take five in the final, it's because we don't want to," defender Nicolas Pallois regretted. Now, we have to take points in the championship, we will have to clear our heads, it will be hard. “And for good reason, in the French championship, FC Nantes (16th with 32 points) is close to the relegation zone six days before the end of the season. Antoine Kombouaré's men will have to play two crucial matches against direct opponents, in Brest on Wednesday and at home against Strasbourg on Sunday.

Better ranked (12ᵉ with 41 points), the people of Toulouse will have plenty of time to celebrate this coronation on the Place du Capitole. They will land in the pink city on Sunday late afternoon. "The emotion is indescribable," club president Damien Comolli told RMC. We spend our days trying to bring rationality to the irrational, while giving emotions to the city and to our supporters, but tonight we fell into the irrational. »

He has not forgotten that in the spring of 2021, Toulouse had lost two-way play-off matches against Nantes, depriving the club of a rise in Ligue 1 at the time, which finally took place the year next.

And now the Violets get a direct access ticket for the next edition of the Europa League, the second European Cup. Except that this participation remains pending because the Toulouse club shares the same owners as AC Milan, in this case the American investment fund Redbird Capital Partners. However, according to Article 5 of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) regulations, devoted to "multi-ownership of clubs", "no club participating in a UEFA club competition may directly or indirectly own or deal in the securities or shares of any other club participating in a UEFA club competition". Currently fourth in the Italian championship and qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League (CL), AC Milan could therefore participate in the next edition of the CL and/or the Europa League.

This did not prevent the Toulouse supporters from chanting "who does not jump is not Toulouse" in communion with their players back down on the lawn after lifting the Coupe de France trophy.