The short video has gone viral since it was uploaded Monday morning. Nearly 4,500,0000 people had indeed gone to the Twitter account of RC Lens, Tuesday evening, to watch the “Compilation of the forgotten Var”. We see three disputed actions from the meeting of the 22nd day of L1, last Sunday, between Brest and the northern formation (1-1). The video was produced in a humorous tone in order to point out the refereeing errors and regret the non-intervention of the VAR. On the model of “The compilation of unknown singers”, a format borrowed from the duo Kad and Olivier, with a vintage soundtrack (Gilbert Montagné and Ottawan), the Sang et Or present in turn “Jean-Michel Çajoue”, “Jean-Michel Padepéno” and “Jean-Michel Pasdecarton”. How was this “compilation” born that everyone in football has been talking about since Monday?
Flashback. Sunday, 7 p.m. RC Lens (3rd) misses the opportunity to regain 2nd place alone by conceding a draw in Brest. The Lensois came back against three questionable actions which might have allowed them to leave Finistère with 3 points instead of one: a penalty not whistled in their favor after a hand from Brestois Belkebla in his area, an offensive hand from Lees -Melou on Brest’s goal and the absence of a card for Lees-Melou (who had already collected a warning) after a tackle which injured Deiver Machado.
Half an hour after the final whistle, manager Franck Haise heads to the referees’ locker room to obtain an explanation for these decisions unfavorable to his team. Central referee Benoît Bastien replies that he has not seen the images due to a network problem. This absence of discussion leads the manager, the general manager Arnaud Pouille and the marketing communication and income director of RC Lens, Benjamin Parrot, to think about communication on the return plane. They discuss the best strategy to adopt.
“The first name Jean-Michel depersonifies the referee who is never shown”
“We said to ourselves that we had to include the images but in a roundabout way in order to elicit reactions. And therefore, put some humor into it, says Benjamin Parrot. Humor seems to us to be a powerful engine to make people react and therefore to launch the debate on the use of VAR. The numbers prove it. It is an assumed humor which does not seem to us to be degrading for the refereeing function. We are not bad players when we speak of an actor in the game. We are in professional football. VAR is a state-of-the-art tool available to professional referees. Players, coaches and referees have a responsibility. »
During the journey, the director of marketing communication and income of the artesian club thinks of Kad and Olivier. “I found the Jean-Michel side interesting. The first name depersonates the referee. We never show the referee in the video, he insists. By mixing humor and without incriminating the referee, we then left for the forgotten VAR. On Monday morning, he writes the script and pitches his idea to his communications team. “We were aware of the potential for virality,” he says. We are in a club that highlights fervor, authenticity and that of open football. This is a new action in the continuity of our communication. A traditional and laconic press release would have put much more emphasis on the regrets and that of a club which places itself in a defensive and victimary position. »
This Tuesday morning at a press conference, Franck Haise was asked about the video with millions of views. “The club’s communication allowed the debate. Me, I found it funny, I really like our communication but it’s not the form that should be looked at but the substance, he said. If there hadn’t been this form, would people have watched the actions of Brest-Lens? When the players are not good, we show the images, when the coaches are not good, we fire them… Why couldn’t we talk about VAR? »
Two days after the video was posted on its Twitter account, RC Lens has no regrets about this unprecedented initiative. “We are in a professional championship where everyone requires the highest level of professionalism and this is valid for each of the players, says Benjamin Parrot. A Brest-Lens is less highlighted than more media meetings where the debate would have arisen on its own. Sympathy does not exclude asking that you be respected for certain things. We use friendly codes to express risky decisions that have not been the subject of any discussion. »