The 2022 Coupe d’Afrique des Nations des Banlieues, also known as Coupe d’Aulnay, recently hosted its fourth match in Aulnay-sous-Bois within the French Banlieue. Unlike the renowned African Cup of Nations, this tournament features teams with African origins, yet the players are primarily first, second, or third-generation French citizens.
This sporting event is a part of a broader movement of soccer competitions in the suburbs, gaining momentum since its inception in 2019 in Créteil. Its impact transcends the realm of sports; for the 1.6 million inhabitants of Seine-Saint-Denis, a region often associated with high poverty and violence levels, the tournament serves as a unifying force, fostering a lively and joyful atmosphere within communities.
Emerging in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the match aimed to alleviate social isolation in the French banlieue. Over time, it has evolved into a source of pride for locals who passionately support the participating teams. As preparations intensify for the 2024 Summer Olympics, slated to take place in Seine-Saint-Denis, sports are already molding the landscape of life in the Banlieue, a place I both grew up and currently reside in. “Offside” captures a social snapshot of the French Banlieue through its most beloved sport: soccer.
About the Author
Born in 1996, William Keo is a French-Cambodian photographer based in the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis. His work focuses on subjects linked to his family’s history and their refugee past: migration, social exclusion and inter-community struggles.
He began his photographic career working for NGOs to pay for his studies. Between 2016 and 2018, he documented the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East before covering Syria after the fall of the “Islamic State” organization. At the same time, he documents the war in Ukraine, Darfur and humanitarian crises such as that of the Rohingyas.
In 2019, he begins long-term work on the Seine-Saint-Denis département, with a first chapter dedicated to the migrant crisis in Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis.
In 2021, he joined Magnum Photos as a nominee.