Stadium Hop #9 – Stade Olympique De Sousse
Stadium Name: Stade Olympique De Sousse
Club: Étoile Sportive du Sahel (ESS)
Nickname (s): L’Étoile (The Star)
Hamra & Bidha (The Red & White)
Nejma (The Star)
Jawharat el-Sahel (Jewel of the coast)
Colours: Red and White
Date: 10th April 2019
Teams: Étoile du Sahel vs Stade Gabesien | 2-1
Competition: Tunisian Ligue 1
An Overview of Etoile du Sahel
Étoile du Sahel is definitely one of the most reputable Tunisian football clubs. The club was founded in 1925, at the heart of the city of Sousse within the region of Sahel. In English, its name translates to ‘The Star of Sahel’ while the red and white colours were chosen to mirror those in the Tunisian flag.
Étoile du Sahel enjoyed many successful campaigns down the years. They were crowned Tunisian champions ten times since the 1950s. On the international level, Étoile du Sahel won one CAF Champions League, two CAF Confederation Cup titles, two CAF Super Cup titles and another two African Cup Winners’ Cup. It was also the first Tunisian club to participate in the Fifa Club World Cup back in 2007. You get the idea, this is not just an ordinary amateur football club. You can even say it’s one of the most supported football clubs in Northern Africa.
The majority of the team is made by Tunisian nationals, while a few others come from different countries around Africa. We noted it’s very unusual to find European players amongst Étoile du Sahel or any other Tunisian team. According to comments made by various fans, the main reason could be because the wages offered are nowhere near those in Europe.
Stade Olympique De Sousse
The club has taken a lot of interest in professionalism throughout the latest years. Étoile du Sahel has a training centre in Sousse consisting of six football fields including two synthetic, a 3-star hotel called “Star’s Sport Residence”, a restaurant and a thalassotherapy centre. Their work and efforts gave many encouraging results, especially after managing to export many young talents to European clubs such as Sevilla’s Aymen Abdennour.
Stade Olympique De Sousse hosted the African Cup of Nations twice, first in 1994 and the most recent in 2004. The plan is to continue expanding and renovating the stadium, with an ambition to reach a seating capacity of 49,00 seats.
Just Before the Stadium Hop…
Well, Sousse is undoubtedly one of the most popular cities with tourists visiting Tunisia. It’s situated along the coast, offering various beautiful beaches as well as luxurious holiday resorts. Don’t get the idea that it’s an expensive place to visit, I mean – resorts are not cheap. However, just like any other Tunisian city, visiting on a budget is very easy!
The closest airport would be the Monastir Habib Bourguiba International Airport, although it’s not the most popular by any means. Chances are that you’ll land in the countries main airport – the Tunis-Carthage International Airport. Getting to Sousse requires absolutely no pre-planning or hesitation. Just head over to the Moncef Bey Station and ask for a ‘Louage’ heading to Sousse.
This is the most popular mode of transport in Tunisia, which basically is a shared mini-van taxi service. It’s very convenient as they leave as soon as the van is full, which doesn’t take much time at all especially popular routes like this one. It’s very cheap but be prepared for one hell of a fast and bumpy ride. Make sure you’re paying the right price and not being scammed by an unlicensed (or a corrupt) driver. It wouldn’t hurt to ask the locals beforehand how much a trip should cost. In this case, a 2-3 hour trip should cost approx. around 14 Tunisian Dinars (€5) per person.
The Sousse Medina
You can’t visit Sousse without stepping into the beautifully laid back Medina. It’s so astonishingly beautiful even just to roam around. You’ll immediately be transported back in time by the street markets, architecture and its particular simple way of life.
One thing we have to sadly point out is to beware of a few people (mostly over 50s) who pose as guides and in the friendliest of ways offer to show you around. They’ll initiate the conversation with a certain technique that will surely make you feel like a total jackass should you not reply back. The sad part is that after they show you a place or two, they’ll start requesting money for their service. I mean, it’s okay if you’re fine with that however we don’t think it’s okay to ask for money for something you totally portrayed as ‘free’.
Hottest Games To Attend
The most awaited games at the Stade Olympique De Sousse are against the other top Tunisian clubs, being Espérance Sportive de Tunis, Club Africain and Club Sportif Sfaxien. Such games are referred to by the name of ‘Tunisian Classico’, inspired by the El Classico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Expect the stadium to be jam packed and don’t be surprised if the atmosphere gets a bit heated. We attended a ‘low-profile’ game against Stade Gabesien – and at certain points throughout the game, it didn’t feel low-profile at all!
Getting to the Stade Olympique De Sousse
Sousse is a walkable city, especially if you have some time on your hands. However, if you’re just there for a day and want to explore as much as possible, it’s very simple – Taxi!
It’s not that usual we suggest a taxi through our travels, but Tunisia showed us how cheap and convenient such a service can be. For instance, in Sousse, a taxi ride starts with a tariff of €0.15 and then goes up just €0.26 per km. You can prepare the route on Google maps beforehand and calculate yourself roughly how much the specific journey will cost you. Make sure that the taxi you enter is in service and uses the meter – if not JUMP STRAIGHT OUT!
Tickets & Prices
By now you must have surely guessed how cheap football tickets in Tunisia must be! Prices can go as low as €2.20 (7 Dinars) for a seat behind goal up to maybe €9.40 (30 Dinars) for a seat in the main stand.
Tickets are available at the ticket point next to the ESS Store. Here is it’s exact location.
Where to Sit at the Stade Olympique De Sousse
Hmm… where to sit? The stadium is divided into four main sections, two behind goal and another two on the long side of the pitch. The two sections behind goal and the one on the northern side are all uncovered seatings. The only covered area is part of the southern longside section. As you can imagine, here tickets are just a bit more expensive than the others (while still less than the majority of European tickets).
In our case, we went for the covered seating area not only because the weather we looking as if it was going to rain – but also acting upon recommendations we got from previous visitors. The atmosphere in the stadium can sometimes get a bit… how shall we portray it – maybe uncomfortable? One must appreciate the cultural difference and that the way of these supporters backing their team isn’t exactly as we’re used to in other parts of the world.
Also, it is also not that common that a female enters such venues (although things have really improved within the last years). We figured that by not sitting in the cheapest area, we would be avoiding the mass gathering of people. It didn’t work out as expected, because as the rain started to pour down – stadium officials permitted (or maybe lost control?) those supporters sitting in the uncovered end to join us in our section. Then, things started to feel a bit… hmm uneasy maybe?
Where to Drink?
Tunisia is a Muslim country and alcohol is forbidden according to the Islamic law. In spite of this, there are a few bars scattered around the city however the beer-drinking culture before or during football matches is sadly non-existent.
The Etoile du Sahel Store
The club’s store is situated right next to the ticket point we mentioned earlier, at this exact location. Buying a scarf not only made a great addition to our collection but also made us feel much closer to the local supporters. It’s unbelievable the power of one single piece of cloth!
On another note, who else thinks that their away kit looks absolutely stunning?