“I am a living miracle”, Avi Assouly

On May 5, 1992, a grandstand collapsed at the Furiani stadium in Corsica. 19 people died that day and 2,357 were injured. OM commentator on France Bleu Provence, Avi Assouly is a survivor. He says.

This Wednesday evening, at the Vélodrome, the players will wear a black headband and a minute of silence will be observed before the OM-Feyenoord Rotterdam match, in memory of Furiani’s victims. Thirty years a day later the biggest disaster in French football.

At that time, Marseillais Avi Assouly commented on OM matches on France Bleu Provence. VSAnd May 5, 1992, he is with 35 other journalists, in the midst of more than 8,000 supporters, in the provisional tribune hastily put together for the semi-final of the Coupe de France Bastia-OM at the stadium Armand Cesari. Fifty fractures, three weeks in a coma, five operations, is a Furiani miracle. He tells us about the moment his life changed, that day, just minutes before kick-off.

  • When you arrived at the Furiani that day, was everything as usual?

“No, it was not as usual, because we were tired, the OM was on all fronts, we were returning from Europe, they were leaving for the Coupe de France, there was the championship … I usually leave on the day first, we sleep there, and the next day we have the game, and there, I was so tired that I took the last plane to be in Bastia around 5:30 pm.

The taxi came to pick me up, I left my suitcase at the hotel, got my Nagra and my credit at the reception, and went to the stadium, to Furiani. There was a lot of people, I saw these things, these pieces of iron, these things … we were like “it’s still weird, it came together so fast”. We said “well okay, security has passed, the prefecture said ok, we said okay”.

We trusted, we went up there … indeed, we were joking … I think it was Fasano who said to De Rocca: “you make me a good newspaper saying that I was a great journalist”. And here we are, 17 meters high, among the fans. And we were especially afraid of agricultural bombs, of the public “.

  • What was the atmosphere like?

“It was hot! Incredible! The atmosphere was very tense. It was very aggressive. Not the hatred, but the people of Bastia who said” we will kill you, we will beat you. “Audience what a disaster.

And then at 8:18 pm, I hear the announcer say, “Don’t hit the metal structures, be careful, don’t hit.” People stamped their feet, he told them “stop” …

At 20:19 I raised my hand like this, high, and some kind of plank or iron fell off. I thought to myself “what the hell is that?”. She was already starting to move.

And I have a little live show at 8.20pm, because the game was at 8.30pm. I say “Hi, the crowd is there, it’s hot, we can barely distinguish the players”. And I say something premonitory, I say: “I hope that at the end of the game I will still be there”. In my mind it was that they wouldn’t beat me … if OM took a penalty … we were afraid of it and then, patatrac … ”

  1. And after that, is it the black hole?

“Je me souviens d’Alain Soultanian le kiné, qui est venu, qui m’attrapait la main, il me disait” Avi, Avi, ne t’en va pas, reste avec nous, je veux pas que tu partes, reste avec we.”

The players had taken me to take the helicopter. And I was taken to Ajaccio, to the Misericordia hospital, but I was unconscious. Pascal Olmeta also made a newspaper in which he said “Avi, he’s dead, they put the paper in his face and the paper moved”. And Tapie with Casoni, with Pascal, with the players, with Amoros, they sent me to Ajaccio. And I woke up 21 days later, in Marseille, in La Timone. I was in a coma for 21 days. “

  • Do you wake up and after?

“I wake up and I can’t remember anything, I know when I fell. They were bucket seats, I am surprised and I see my whole life. I was 40 at that time and I have seen my whole life go by, my brother, my sisters , their marriages, my parents … the birth of my child, my children … my whole life has passed.

I woke up 21 days later, with all you know, the vertebrae … I thought I would even be paralyzed .. eight months later, I was in a wheelchair, that’s all. “

  • 21 days later, when you find out what happened, do you realize?

“Not even, I have a tracheostomy, tubes all over the place, I burst. I was left for dead.”

“Yes, it was Tapie who came to see us, I was listening but I couldn’t speak, I was close to paralysis.”

  • And today, 30 years later?

“In the book (Editor’s note:” Furiani, 20 years “), ten years ago, I said that I have a 20-year bonus. Today I have a 30-year bonus. I’m a living miracle.”

From now on, in memory of the victims, first, second division, Coupe de France and Trophée des Champions football matches will no longer be played on 5 May.

On the judicial side, the builder of the provisional grandstand was sentenced to two
years in jail in the first instance and has not filed an appeal. He is the only one of the 13 defendants initially prosecuted to have received a prison sentence.

At the end of the appeal process in 1995, eight other defendants, including officials of the club, Lega Corsa or the FFF, as well as the former chief of staff of the prefect,
were sentenced to suspended sentences or fines.

Furiani’s drama has also led the authorities to tighten up controls of temporary stands in terms of solidity of structures, personal safety and emergency response. The procedure is subject to the approval of the prefect after obtaining a positive opinion from the safety commission.

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