All images by Skander Khlif. Used with permission.
It’s been a while since the 2018 FIFA World Cup has concluded, but that doesn’t stop us from showcasing this beautiful and heartfelt photo essay by Skander Khlif. In his set titled Hooligans of Love, the Munich-based street and documentary photographer captured the revelry of the Tunisian team’s supporters. Interestingly, it the was the only group that he ended up making a series about throughout his attendance of the World Cup, and here, he tells us why.
When he prowled the stretch of Nikolskaya in Moscow at night with his Fujifilm X100F in tow, Skander initially planned to capture both the typical city life and atmosphere, especially with all the multi-cultural festivities happening in lieu of the World Cup. While he had the opportunity to observe how at least twelve different groups supported their countries, he ended up making and presenting a photo essay focused only on the Tunisian group.
“I finally ended up only presenting a series about the supporters of a single team which is Tunisia. Not because they were the most numerous (as it was by far the Russians), and neither because they were the loudest (as it was by far the Mexicans), but because they had the most solidarity. For sure, they were also the most glamorous. These are the reasons I have called the series ‘Hooligans of Love’. It looked much more like a wedding celebration that went on until 4 AM for 2-3 nights, and included 4,000 cousins rather than football supporters.”
Skander was certain about the harmony and joy spreading — “far from the usual aggressiveness we are used to relating to football,” he added — throughout the space the Tunisian supporters occupied, and the scenes he captured show it. Even in the absence of festive colors, the photos are vibrant with the energy and festive spirit throughout the series.
“One could also hear the wonderfully coordinated and sophisticated songs which were even accompanied by traditional musical Instruments,” Skander recalled. “Having such an ambiance and mood in front of me, I took an amazing pleasure to melt away into it and tried my very best to record the intense emotions floating around.”