The 'OM'

The Olympique de Marseille, an emblem of the city

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In the skin of a lady supporter.

We've been trying to work out where the huge popularity and fervent support for this team stems from. The Olympique de Marseille is the city's emblematic football club and you'll see shirts everywhere in the streets, flags hooked up to apartments and hear the supporters chanting when their club is playing… This is more than a simple team to Marseille – it's almost a state of mind!

It's like Bouillabaisse – Marseille without the OM is simply impossible. The club literally unites the whole city.
So we asked our friend Emilie, one of the team's passionate supporters, to explain the OM to us. Because if you want to talk about a team, only a fan can do it properly!

Émilie, where does your passion for the OM come from?
Émilie: "I started getting interested in football thanks to my dad. The OM virus really caught on in the Nineties when the Olympique was beating everyone hands down. My dad was firing shots into the air off the balcony with his hunting rifle and there were horns going off everywhere, it was all hell let loose! What I felt that day was so uplifting it never left me."

What does being an OM supporter really mean?
Émilie: "Going to the ground is one thing. Being part of the supporter movement is another. Being an OM supporter is above all a mentality. It's almost a religion – we're extreme, there are no half measures. We feel we belong to Marseille above all else and our love for the club is a gut feeling, a question of identity. The stadium is where everyone gets together and lets go, without fear of being judged. All kinds of people from all social classes come here to unite for the same cause. We're exalted, we complain, sometimes (ok, often) we're vulgar, but that's part of the game… The angles of the Velodrome Stadium are its beating heart – that's where you'll find the real groups of supporters (there are 8 in Marseille) including the MTP, who literally make the ground vibrate. The fan culture developed in the city in the Eighties and is rooted in the Italian Ultra movement and the South Americans and Greeks, who consider the stadium as a place for partying and fervour. And that's what being an OM fan is really all about, burning with fervour, passion and pride for your club. It's wanting to see Marseille shine above them all, because as we say here: Marseille is different!"

If you're not jumping up and down, you're not from Marseille! Hey hey hey!
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Émilie in action at an OM match!

Can you tell us about the MTP?
Émilie: "The supporters are there to bring the stands to life and especially cheer on their team. I was an active member of the MTP (Marseille Too Powerful) for around a decade. Those were ten really incredible years, interspersed with totally unforgettable moments, explosions of joy, a bit of aggro, travel, friendships and sometimes very sad moments too. We lived out our dramas and saw quite a lot of our friends leave us... The story of the MTP is pretty true to its motto: for life, for death, for my city, for my club. The MTP was formed in 1994 by Patrice De Peretti (nicknamed Depé). He left us suddenly on July 28th, 2000, but he was such a charismatic and passionate man that his spirit still lives on today. There was another drama in August 2008: a coach accident swept away our friends Imad and Lahcen. We had to fight again to get over it. But paradoxically, all of this misfortune has created very strong ties, like a second family... My role is especially to organise the 'Tifos' (gigantic shows when the players come onto the field) and the 'Bâchage' (setting up all the tarpaulins). But in addition to the organisation, I had a bit of a special role, especially with regards to the younger fans. They nicknamed me 'Tatie' (Auntie) and the name has stuck. Although I'm much more behind the scenes these days, I will always be and feel part of the MTP. The group has played an important role in my life – it's even where I met my husband who later became my father's child!

Voilà, I don't think anyone, and especially us, would have been able to talk about the OM so well. Thanks Émilie, you're the best!

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