The FIGHT AIDS CUP returns !
Third edition of the FIGHT AIDS CUP, always at the Louis II stadium. On January 23, 2023, as part of the 45th International Circus Festival, Prince Albert II’s team, « the Barbagiuans », will finally attempt to win the prestigious trophy from Princess Stephanie (CIRQUE FC), who has owned it for three years. A private preserve that nevertheless attracts covetousness and animates this rivalry, which the next part will be written before your eyes, through the traditional football match, only charitable in name.
The hour of revenge has come! Time has arrived for Princess Stephanie to put her title back on the line. The FIGHT AIDS CUP is back and this year more than ever the match is going to be breathtaking, symbolizing a rivalry at the top, far from having reached the high point. Forced to face the second victory of CIRQUE FC in the previous edition, Louis Ducruet has made this January 23, 2023 a date not to be missed in his calendar. For cause, the global organization of the evening, obviously, but not only… Since his arrival at the head of the « Barbagiuans » and the creation almost at once of the FIGHT AIDS CUP, the nephew of Prince Albert II has still not managed to win this competition, which he is however the founder. This is a difficult sporting reality, which Louis Ducruet dreams of not having to face anymore. Determined, the president of the group assures that « despite the mostly charitable aspects, the Barbagiuans have, after two setbacks, a great thirst of victory. » To ward off fate, the team of the sovereign can boast of having in their ranks some legends of local soccer having, once again, responded positively to the invitation of Louis Ducruet. This is the case of Claude Puel.
A central figure in the principality’s football club, he led the red and white to the French championship title in 2000, the first major highlight of his coaching career. Very complimentary about the state of mind that characterizes the meeting and, in general, the FIGHT AIDS CUP, there is no doubt that, on the pitch, his competitive spirit will soon be felt. This is not surprising for a man whose passion for the field is no secret and for whom defeat will never be an option. « It’s true that our squad looks older than the opponent’s. Nevertheless, the team is still nice to see and will, once again, give the best », says Claude Puel, before extending his words. « Through this match, we are defending a beautiful cause and the stakes are not limited to the result. Despite this, the Barbagiuans have at heart to win to reverse the trend and experience the joy of being, for the first time, the title holder. » An argument that translates his motivation at the idea of being part of a collective that could, if a triumph is achieved, make us forget the two consecutive failures suffered against CIRQUE FC (he was present during the most recent of them). Louis Ducruet is now convinced that « the upcoming event will be the one that will allow the Barbagiuans to finally register in the list of winners of the FIGHT AIDS CUP… ».
Captain of CIRQUE FC, Sébastien Frey does not hear it that way. In addition to Luca Toni, man of the match in 2022 (« two goals »), Clarence Seedorf, Robert Pires… can look forward to welcoming the Italian legend Francesco Totti this year, in a team where the stars will not be in short supply. This will allow Sebastien Frey to serenely express his ambitions : « I know that Princess Stéphanie loves the trophy… and she would be delighted to keep it by her side for another year. Even though our main objectives are to have fun and promote the fight against HIV, CIRQUE FC has always played to try to win. Louis should expect that to be the case again this year… »
The stage is set.
Claude Puel, emblematic figure of the « Barbagiuans »
Ready to take up this new challenge, the « Barbagiuans » already present before have, despite the latest results, the same enthusiasm to return. A loyalty that shows their attachment to the princely shirt. It is also a sign of the central place given to a romance that, for many of them, began long before the birth of the FIGHT AIDS CUP… A true pioneer of the « Barbagiuans », Claude Puel is one of the active members whose romance with this team spans several decades. The former midfielder has managed, in parallel to his career as a player and then as a coach, to be regularly available to take part in the events of the « Barbagiuans », both on and off the field. And he is decided to prolong the pleasure! Claude Puel will participate this year to his second FIGHT AIDS CUP with, as always when he joins the group, the same pride. That of representing Prince Albert II and of wearing this unique jersey, which he knows so well. « It’s always a great joy to be back with the Barbagiuans. I remember the wild games we used to play in Fayence at the home of the late Henri Biancheri and that the sovereign shared with us, a few years ago. This team will always be his and we must do honor to it. » The Castres native, who has dedicated his entire soccer career to ASM, adds. « Under the impetus of Louis Ducruet, the new generation has now taken the lead. Nevertheless, the basics have been passed on and I find again this friendly spirit that I have known, definitely indissociable of Barbagiuans. »
Some new features and particularities…
In order to reinforce the members of the team that the public will obviously be able to see again this year, Louis Ducruet wishes to bring in new blood. Ricardo Carvalho, Camel Meriem, Sonny Anderson, Edouard Cissé… will offer their talent to a team that already had plenty of it. With this initiative, the nephew of Prince Albert II is pleased to « continue the development of the group », but also « to introduce other personalities of the Monegasque football in the family of Barbagiuans. » As usual, all former professionals who will compose the sovereign’s formation have passed, in their career, by the club of the principality. An opportunity for the fans to relive their memories as supporters or watchers of the red and white team. For Louis Ducruet too, this meeting will have, as in the previous two parts of the event, a special meaning. « It’s a lot of emotion to be able to be with my idols and those of my uncle on the field. Some of these players are world champions… it’s a pride to have them here », confesses the president of the « Barbagiuans », before concluding. « Their availability symbolizes the proximity they have conserved with Monaco and especially with the charitable values that our country has always tried to defend. » Others local personalities such as the F1 driver Charles Leclerc will complete the squad. Jean Tigana will succeed Jean Petit and Arsène Wenger as coach this year.
Several parallel events will be commemorated during this third edition. In particular, the 45th anniversary of the French championship title won by AS Monaco in 1978. Promoted into the first division that season, the team was able to beat all the odds and write one of the most beautiful pages of the club’s history. Louis Ducruet assures, « some of the concerned players will come to the FIGHT AIDS CUP. This will be an opportunity to represent this golden generation of Monegasque soccer and to celebrate, with them, the memory of this prestigious success. » With the return of the circus to the principality this year, the president of the « Barbagiuans » reveals that some additional circus animations will also be on the program. In addition to the « clowns en folie » that will once again accompany the entry of the two formations on the field, another performance is planned at halftime of the meeting. According to Louis Ducruet, all of these elements have helped to « attract the interest of new sponsors and partners. These are added to those which are faithful to us. »
FIGHT AIDS MONACO in the spotlight
The FIGHT AIDS CUP is now a must in the Monegasque sports landscape and represents much more than a simple soccer match. The concept has no secrets for Sébastien Frey, who will celebrate his third participation on January 23. Grateful for the trust placed in him, he is « honored to represent an institution such as the Monte Carlo Circus Festival », but also, in general, « Princess Stéphanie and the charitable values that she cherishes. » The event, organized by the « Barbagiuans », will also promote the actions of Princess Stephanie’s association, FIGHT AIDS MONACO. It will also be an opportunity to put the fight against HIV at the center of attention for one evening. Coordinator of FIGHT AIDS MONACO, Hervé Aeschbach is aware of the general benefits that this event is able to provide, for the development of the group. « The FIGHT AIDS CUP is one of our main communication and fundraising vectors, along with the summer gala. The presence of soccer stars allows us to promote our prevention message on a more extensive scale, by directly reaching the sporting public, which we know is large. » He even adds that « seeing the name of the association linked to such an event shows the gratitude of the organizers, participants… towards the fight led by Princess Stephanie. »
Louis Ducruet affirms, « the interest is that, for the spectators, coming to the event becomes a real tradition. Barbagiuans are counting on your mobilization at the stadium to support the fight against HIV and, in fact, to contribute to the development of FIGHT AIDS MONACO. »
The FIGHT AIDS CUP 2023, an evening where, once again this year, sport, conviviality and a good cause will become one…