Les Pieds-Noirs: Algeria’s Forgotten Footballers

“They were war criminals, Nobel Prize laureates and World Cup record-setters. History often shuns them into that dark corner where it tends to stash the unspeakable atrocities too tender for recollection. They were les Pieds-Noirs. The word Pied-Noir literally translates as ‘black foot’, and it refers to North African settlers of French origin. The vast majority of these settlers ended up in Algeria. In fact, when the Franco-Algerian war began in 1954, 1 million of Algeria’s 9 million inhabitants were Pieds-Noirs. But in the span of a few years, the heart of their identity was arrested by a hideous infarction – decolonization. In eight short years the entire French population of Algeria had relocated. Many pieds-noirs didn’t consider themselves French, but they also knew that they were different, perhaps superior, to the natives. Stuck in a peculiar identity limbo, les pieds-noirs forged their own identity and subsequently stamped a significant impression on footballing folklore. The French Football Federation exported a tested template to North Africa. Unlike French Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia were protectorates, so the French invested less in their footballing infrastructure. Nevertheless, five professional leagues were installed across North Africa; one in each protectorate, and three in Algeria: Algiers, Oran and Constantine. The five champions of each league would then participate in an ancient version of the Champions League called the North African Cup. Part One of our series homes in on a special goalkeeper in the league in Algiers: Albert Camus. Camus was born in 1913 to a mother of Spanish descent, just 20 km south of modern-day Annaba. His father died in World War One just a year later, so Albert was raised by a single mother who could not read nor write. Her additional hearing impediment meant that her only method of communication was by reading exaggerated lip movements. The Camus household understandably struggled to make ends meet during his infancy so he was raised in the popular neighbourhood of Belcourt (modern day Belouizdad). Due to his wit, undeniable intellect, and athletic ability, Camus inevitably matured into a gregarious adolescent. …”
French Football Weekly
Algerian history as graphic novel
W – Pied-Noir

Algerian history as graphic novel

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Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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