Kisses, affection and Dua Lipa: a visual journey among the ‘Scousers’ before the last Champions League final

Champions League Final. One of the most impressive events in the contemporary sporting world, a chaotic mix of physical and emotional energies, anthropological and social nuances. MT Kosobucki’s camera wanted to portray all the complex components of this majestic football celebration; he wanted to dissect them among the streets of Paris, crystallizing the long afternoon that preceded the turmoil in the Parc des Princes and the 1-0 victory of Madrid’s ‘Blancos’ against Liverpool and its ‘Scousers’ tribe.

It’s precisely the ‘Scousers’ who are the protagonists of this visual reportage. Men who in the common imagination represent the epitome of hooligans culture, but who in the eyes of this young American photojournalist represented much more. Born and raised in a football environment (strange to say for an overseas boy), MT recounts his Parisian experience in these words.

“I was in Paris for a master’s degree in photography. A Danish friend of mine pitched me the idea of enjoying the fan zone during the pre-match. He’s a Liverpool fan and played football with me during college. I’m a Chelsea fan, but I said why not, in order to experience that unique event. The entrance to the fan zone was through a small gate, some Liverpool fans were trying to ask questions to the local policemen who either did not answer or spoke French. There was already some of the tension that would erupt a few hours later, there were bad vibes. Inside the fan zone everything magically changed. There was a pure, innocent, almost childlike energy emanating from thousands of middle-aged men. I was struck by the hugs, the kisses on the cheeks to the notes of Dua Lipa…. The limits and taboos of masculinity in that context seemed to be dissolved to zero. I’m well aware that around that context other things must surely have happened, but I captured what I saw. And I saw men drunk with excitement, able to break down ultrasecular behavioral barriers with acts of love that were so natural and so powerful. I saw also another powerful image: a gypsy woman begging for money from a couple young men amidst all the chaos; to me it was a visual manifestation of the economic imbalance and corruption within UEFA and world football as a whole. In my time in Europe, I understood the difference between the fandoms of major U.S. and European sports. My first game was at the Vicente Calderón in Madrid, then I was several times at Stamford Bridge: here there is no separation between normal life and sports life, in the US the sporting event is an escape from the everyday, here your team is the everyday, it’s life. And the ‘Scousers’ are a perfect example of this concept.”