L'Equipe: Much More than a Newspaper

The L'Equipe newspaper has the honor of having participated in the creation of two of the most important competitions in the sports world.
L'Equipe: Much More than a Newspaper

Last update: 23 March, 2020

L’Equipe refers to one of the best sports newspapers in the world. It’s much more than just that, though. It’s also the creator and organizer of the Tour de France and the European Football Cup. Today we’re going to tell you a little bit about the paper and some of the important milestones in its history.

L’Equipe’s first years

This sports newspaper was founded in 1946, in France, by Jacques Goddet. Goddet was a true visionary of the time. But we’re not saying it was the first newspaper devoted entirely to sports. L’Auto-Velo came before it. This paper included information related to cycling because its editor, Henri Desgrange, was involved in that sport. L’Auto’s editor would later go on to print the publication on yellow paper to set it apart from its competitor, which favored green.

Desgrange died in 1940 and a group of Germans took control of the paper. Jacques Goddet – son of L’Auto’s first financial director – was appointed editor. He would refuse to publish Nazi propaganda during the Second World War.

A man reading the l'equipe newspaper.

Goddet had to print copies secretly until they allowed him to have his own newspaper. That was L’Equipe, which is the same one we know today. They would print their news on white paper in order to stand out from the other newspapers.

New editions of L’Equipe would come out three times a week until 1948. Beginning that year, they would publish it daily – a practice that still continues today. In 1980, they began to also include Saturday editions to this. The format changed in 2015, with the newspaper going from a broadsheet (58 x 28 cm) to tabloid (36 x 28 cm).

This is truly one of the most prestigious sports magazines in Europe. In fact, in 2004 it had the highest circulation at the national level. It was even ahead of Le Figaro and Le Monde.

Its importance for the birth of the Tour de France

While it might seem strange, it was L’Equipe that thought up the idea for this massive international competition. The Tour de France was the first stage cycling competition and it debuted in 1903.

Although L’Equipe didn’t even exist at the time, L’auto, which was its predecessor, was being sold. It was another projected that Desgrange managed. He was also the director of the race from its beginnings up until 1939 and he was also an avid cyclist.

Along with the journalist Geo Lefevre, they developed the idea of advertising the race in the newspaper itself. And what would the paper get in return? They’d advertise themselves through the competition!

L’Equipe and the European Cup

But this newspaper did more than establish itself as an international authority. L’Equipe also has the “honor” of having taken part in the idea of the old European Champion Clubs Cup. They later changed the name of this organization to the European Cup. Today, you’ll probably know it as the UEFA Champions League.

The uefa champions league ball on a podium.

Everything happened in 1955 when the UEFA approved the French newspaper’s proposal. That is, stated more specifically, the proposal of its director, Gabriel Hanot, and the journalist Jacques Ferran. The project also enjoyed the support of the then-president of Real Madrid, Santiago Bernabeu. The Hungarian UEFA vice president, Gusztav Sebes, was also in favor of the move.

The competition was inspired by the South American Championship tournament. Its objective was to get the best European teams together in a single tournament. In the first article of their regulations, they stated that L’Equipe was their organizer and the tournament would be called the L’Equipe European Cup.

The first championship was carried out in 1956. Eighteen teams participated in that edition of it. Real Madrid defeated Stade de Remis 4 to 3 in order to gain its first-place slot. It’s worth noting that this team from the capital city of Spain is also the team with the most wins in this competition at 13.

L’Equipe is much more than just a sports paper. It’s one of the most popular publications in France. In its digital form, it’s got a huge worldwide readership as well. Aside from the numbers though, you have to appreciate the fact that it created two incredibly important competitions in the world of sports.

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