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The Rise and Fall of SC Bastia: Corsica’s Football Pride

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Sporting Club Bastiais
Image by S.C. Bastia

Sporting Club Bastiais, popularly known as SC Bastia, is a French football club that is found in Bastia in the island of Corsica. After being demoted four levels from Ligue 1 in 2017, the club now plays in Championnat National 2 – the fourth tier in French football – as a result of financial difficulties.

The History of Sporting Club Bastiais

SC Bastia

The club was founded in 1905 by Hans Ruesch and began its professional journey in Division 2 in 1965. They successfully went on to win it and were promoted to the first division. Sporting Club Bastiais play their home games at the 16,048 Stade Armand Cesari, popularly called Stade Furiani. 

The club’s best era was witnessed in the 1970s. They successfully managed to be cup finalists in the UEFA Cup in 1978, sadly losing to PSV. In that season, they managed to beat Sporting Lisbon, Newcastle United, Torino, Carl Zeiss Jena, and Grasshopper Zurich.

A few years later, the city of Corsica would enjoy its biggest win ever. Bastia went ahead and won the Coupe de France in 1981. They beat a St. Etienne side that had world-beaters such as Michel Platini in a memorable final at the Parc des Princes.

After financial difficulties, the Corsican side was forced to relegate out of top tier football in 2017. SC Bastia has since been struggling to return to its former glory.

Turchini

Bastia fans are known as Turchini which means ‘Blues’ in Corsican. They are among the most vocal football ultras in the French scene. The majority of the Bastia fans are Corsicans and often display love for their town not just in football but in many other ways. Even though there is a deep divide between Corsicans and mainland France, they still manage to follow and support their team regardless.

SC Bastia’s ultras rise in the 1970s coincided with the emergence of the Corsican nationalist movement. This has led the club to become a symbol of the fight against “la metropole.”

Most of Bastia hardcore supporters, such as Ultras Bastia 1905, were found in the East Stand at Stade Armand Cesari. There, they turned every home match into a spectacle.

Following the drop into fourth division football, however, most of the old ultras left and the east stand is currently not occupied. Today, only a handful of young fans are dedicating themselves to supporting Bastia at home games.

Bastia’s club badge has a famous moor that is highly recognisable in the football circles. The moor’s head which is derived from Corsica’s flag has come to symbolise their outsider status in which their fans ravel in.

In the flag’s original manifestation, the bandana across the moors head covered the eyes. However, it was moved upwards by Pasquale Paoli who was a Corsican leader at that time. It symbolised its people’s liberation.

Tragedy

Like many other teams across Europe, they have also faced a tragedy. This happened on 5 May 1992. They were scheduled to face Marseille in a massive Cup fixture. Due to this, they erected a temporary stand in the Furiani Stadium to cater for the extra fans. However, tragedy struck just a few minutes after kick-off when the terrace collapsed. Tragically, 18 fans died while many others were injured.

As a mark of respect to their fallen comrades, Bastia doesn’t play matches on the 5th in honour of the fallen.

Fierce Rivalries

Bastia’s fans have fierce rivalries with most of the mainland teams because of their resolute love for Corsica. However, their biggest game is against Nice. They face off in the Derby de la Mediterranee.

It’s also important to note that games against Monaco and Marseille are big features for the blues. Moreover, because of political inclinations between the Corsica and Paris, they are fierce rivals with PSG.

Sporting Club Bastiais’ local rival is with corresponding islanders AC Ajaccio (Corsican Derby) and Gazalec Ajaccio. Both come from the same Island. Even though they may be rivals, they both share the same agenda. They all want independence, there have been several protests that both sets of ultras have been involved in. A good example is when they united and had demonstrations in the streets of Corte in Northern Corsica on December 3, 2014.

Even though the Bastia has seen rough times, their resolute is still unchanged and they aim to come back up. They have not stayed down for long and have won back to back promotions. They are attempting to make another comeback. This will not be hard to achieve as they have done it before, they remain resolute and are on their way back.

Midfielder @ Hooligan F.C.

Donald Maloba is a Kenyan football writer and former football player. He eats, sleeps, and breathes football. He supports AFC Leopards.

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