Patrice Evra released today his autobiography, “I love this game”. The former footballer talks about his career, but he also tackles more delicate topics, from the sexual assaults he suffered as a teenager to homophobia in football. And what appears implicitly is that the world of football is sorely lacking in humanity.
You can win the Champions League, lift the trophy smiling at the cameras, and not swim in happiness. Patrice Evra says that in 2008, when he won the coveted trophy with Manchester United, he was just pretending to be happy. Not because he didn’t want to be on top of Europe, but because he had turned into a winning machine with his club.
So much so that the notions of pleasure, happiness, had almost disappeared. It seems interesting to me because by dint of frantically scrutinizing the statistics of players and teams, we lose sight of the essential. The game, the human too. Patrice Evra describes the world of high level as a world of fellows where players cannot show any weakness at the risk of being mocked by the group. Crying in front of a sad movie, are you kidding or what, it’s not done. And he himself qualifies life inside high-level teams as an imprint of toxic masculinity. However, we cannot suspect Patrice Evra of being a dangerous extremist feminist. That’s why it’s interesting that a former player, whom we saw brave throughout his career, split the armor and talk to us behind the scenes.
During his career he never mentioned the sexual assaults he suffered as a teenager
First, it can take years to realize what you’ve been through, to find the strength to talk about it. And even more in an environment like high-level sport, where you first try to hide your weaknesses and injuries. We know that there have been many cases of sexual assault on minors in sport, with people in authority as aggressors. And if the words of Patrice Evra can help young athletes today, we can only thank him.
The former player also addresses the subject of homophobia in football. We are not going to hide the face, obviously it exists. A few days ago, Josh Cavallo, the Australian who came out, was the victim of violent homophobic insults during a match of his team. Insults from the stands, yes. But it’s not better on the inside. Patrice Evra says that revealing his homosexuality in the locker room is almost like drawing a line under his career.
We always come back to this story of the sport of men. Kind of a football caricature. Patrice Evra may have been the one looking for the mole in Knysna. But today he wants to move the lines and so much the better. I love this game, but there is still work to do.