My first question is why did you choose clubs in Mascara and Relizane as subjects for Stadiumphilia?
I chose Relizane and Mascara because they are part of my surroundings. The first club was performing in the 1st division and the latter in the 2nd, so I already had a general idea about what was happening in the national footballistic scene without moving a lot.
Do you believe that photos taken elsewhere in North Africa would have produced different results?
I don’t think that I would have liked working elsewhere. What we can see in the two stadiums was all what inspired me for the project; a project about very young supporters sometimes around 12 and 14 escaping the pressure of society by going to a stadium and managing to avoid the control of policemen and security agents by their own ways. To respond to your question: I don’t think that the result in other stadium in North Africa would be the same simply because youngsters from the same age would not be allowed to access the stadium, for example I’ve heard that in Algiers stadiums, they ask for your ID to enter.
What kind of smartphone did you use to take the photos for Stadiumphilia?
I’ve a cool anecdote (at least for me) about what kind of iPhone I used for the project. I’ve used 3 types of iPhones for the project, which started in November 2015. Back then I was using a 5c, then I used a 5s and a 6 and the result is nearly identical.
How did you come up with the idea of photographing supporters with your smartphone?
It’s been two years since I’ve used a cameraphone for my projects and seldom use a film camera.
Do you go to matches often?
To be honest, I’m not a real stadium-goer, when I was younger the family wouldn’t let me go there, and these last few years I went occasionally especially when a fervent football fan and a friend of mine insisted on me accompanying him.
Can you recall the first time you went into a stadium? Who was playing who? Was it a positive or a negative experience? (How) have things changed since then?
My family domicile (the parents house) is located some 200m away from the municipal stadium Meflah Aoued, where the local football club GCM got his championship in 1985 if my memory is not deceiving me by the lead of the legendary player Belloumi, the first time that i went to stadium was some years ago to watch a freindly game of the local club against it oponent as far as i remember nothing marked me maybe because I’ve missed the golden age of the GCM and the magic of Belloumi.
What was one thing that shocked you while shooting?
The thing that shocked me the most till now is the violence scene and the tension on the faces of supporters that i’ve witnessed minutes before the end and after the end of a decisive match which gathered GC Mascara vs the Local club of Oued Rhiou in my town Mascara.
What was the supporters’ reaction when they saw you take photos of them?
Most of the supporters are open but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some who refused to be photographed. I think that even if I was using a smartphone so many of them asked me what are you doing people can feel it that you are not taking selfies or amateur videos to upload on social networks.
You sat with members of the Relizane ultra group ‘Verde Corazone’…What do you make of the ultra movement? The vast majority of members are younger than 18 and they are extremely organized.
It happens to me to ask about the ultras and all what concerned different football clubs, I think that what is unique about Verde Corazone is the age of it members, the average is around 16, that what makes it originality when we compare it to other ultras. What i admire the most about the ultras movement is their commitment and the level of organization they have without counting on the help of the officials.
What is it about football supporters that make them such a good subject to be photographed?
What make the football supporters a good subject is the energy they reflect, we can see that passion in their eyes.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a smartphone as opposed to another camera?
Except the quality, especially when it comes to large format printing i’m so satisfied with the phone photography, more than this i would say that i’m optimistic by it to the point of saying that’s a it’s going to be the future of photography.
Follow Fethi Sahraoui on instagram: @fethi.sahraoui