Deadly Games: Algeria and Tunisia’s ultra football fans
A powerful look at football passion in Tunisia and Algeria and the tragic consequences when it boils over into violence.
“Somebody said that football’s a matter of life and death to you. I said, listen, it’s more important than that.”
When the legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly came out with his now-famous quote on TV in 1981, he might have been talking about the Algerian and Tunisian fans in this documentary. For many, football really is much more than a game. Some see themselves as not just supporters but part of a wider movement. They say that on the terraces, they find a sense of belonging and a camaraderie otherwise absent from their daily lives and that as supporters they also represent the dispossessed of the poor suburbs of Tunis and Algiers.
Sometimes, however, football passions can have life-changing consequences. In March 2018, 19-year-old Omar Labidi from the southern suburbs of Tunis clashed with police outside a busy stadium. The victim’s brother claims that police used tear gas to force Omar into a nearby river where he drowned. Three years after his death, his family continues to seek justice.
In Algeria, Raouf Zerka has only vague memories of the game that changed his life in November 2016. In the 70th minute of a local derby match in Algiers, a burning flare hit him in the face. After eight days in a coma, he discovered he had lost his left eye.
This film follows Tunisia’s and Algeria’s most passionate fans, buying tickets on the black market, travelling vast distances to away matches, and doing whatever it takes to support the teams they love. But it also highlights the price of football passion and asks if the cost of extreme fandoms is worth the risk.