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Sochaux (Municipality, Doubs, France)

Last modified: 2016-11-11 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Sochaux]

Flag of Sochaux - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 November 2011

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Presentation of Sochaux

The municipality of Sochaux (4,2121 inhabitants in 2008; 217 ha; municipal website) is an industrial satellite town of Montbéliard, mostly developed around the Peugeot car factory.
Sochaux has been known in the past under different names, such as Souchy, Soschal, Souchault, Soulchaux, Sochal, Soubchault, and Saucheaux; however, the etymology of the town's name is obscure, usually presented as a shortening of "sous-Chaux", that is "under [the] Chaux [hill]". In Jura, Switzerland and Savoy, chaux usually means "a pasture located at high elevation".

Sochaux was mentioned for the first time on a Roman map dated 406, as the Souchy villa, probably established by a local landlord near a source, in a place quite distant from the invasion corridors of the time. Souchy reappeared in 1189, in a Bull signed by Pope Clement II. In 1538, Montbéliard and the surroundings adopted the Reformed religion; a road linking Sochaux to Montbéliard was eventually built, while the marshes were drained with canals. The opening of the canal linking rivers Rhine and Rhône (1832) boosted the development of the town. which was stopped in 1870 by the Franco- Prussian War. The population of Sochaux remained fairly low (259 inhabitants in 1872).

The industrialization of Sochaux started in the 1840s, when Théodore Ienné founded a brewery in Sochaux, employing only eight workers and serving the local market. In 1889, Ienné was succeeded by his son, who had studied brewery technics in Germany, and modernized and increased the production (37,000 hl in 1896; 103,000 hl in 1930). In 1930, the Sochaux brewery absorbed several local breweries, forming a a group named Société des brasseries et malteries de Franche-Comté-Alsace, whose six factories produced 570,000 hl per year. Destroyed in July 1943, the Sochaux brewery resumed production in 1948. Incorporated in 1966 to the Société Européenne de Brasserie, the brewery was eventually closed on 1 July 1979.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the development of automobile industry dramatically boosted the development of Sochaux. The engineer Frédéric Rossel (1871-1940) worked in the first car factory set up by Armand Peugeot in the neighboring tiwn of Audincourt; Rossel is credited the invention of the vertical engine.
In 1902, with the agreement of Armand Peugeot, Rossel opened his own car workshop in Sochaux; in 1903, he produced his first car, quickly considered as the "French Mercedes". Several other models were released, but their high prize and Rossel's perfectionism prevented the factory to make profit. A short-lived Rossel-Peugeot joint-venture aimed at producing airplanes was not successful, either, manufacturing only three aircrafts. In 1911, Rossel was hired again by Peugeot to set up a new factory in Sochaux; for the next years he managed both the Peugeot factory and his own business, opening a new workshop in Suresnes, near Paris, which he had to sell to Peugeot before having released a single car. Rossel gave up in 1923, selling his Sochaux factory to Peugeot.
During the First World War, the Peugeot factory in Sochaux, employing 400 workers, produced shells and engines for aircrafts and tanks. The production of civil cars started only in 1921; in 1930 the area of the factory was ten times its original area. In 1937, the Peugeot "great house" employed 14,500 workers, which required the set up of specific bus and train lines and of on-site dormitories. Missed by the air bombing of 16 July 1943 that killed 125 and injured more than 250, the factory released the "202" car in 1948, an event which was the first step of the increase of the Peugeot group. Robots appeared in 1977 while the production was completely modernized in 1987, moving the bed of river Allan that split the factory into two parts. Today, the Sochaux factory, part of the PSA group, covers 265 ha, employs 19,500 workers and releases 1,800 cars per day.
The Sochaux factory was a main site of the May 1968 uprising. On 11 June 1968, violent confrontations between the police and the workers on strike occupying the factory since 20 May caused the death of two workers, while 150 were injured.

Ivan Sache, 13 November 2011

Flag of Sochaux

The flag of Sochaux, as seen in the town (October 2004), is red with the municipal arms in the middle.

The arms of Sochaux (description), adopted on 6 May 1960 by the Municipal Council, are "Azure billetty or a lion crowned of the same armed and langued gules holding a cog wheel sable filled gules issuant of which a S- shaped piece of metal argent." The shield is surmounted by a three- towered mural crown or and surrounded by two branches of hop slipped and leaved or fructed argent. The War Cross 1939-1945 with a star or (granted on 11 November 1948 by Decision No. 78) is appended to the shield.
The blue shield with the billets and the lion comes from the arms of Franche-Comté. The cogwheel recalls mechanic industry. The S-shaped piece of metal stands for Sochaux, its red filling represents a fire, and, therefore, casting and shaping. Hops recall the Sochaux brewery.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 13 November 2011

FC Sochaux-Montbéliard

Sochaux is mostly known in France for the Football Club Sochaux- Montbéliard (FCSM, website). Founded in 1928 by Jean-Pierre Peugeot, the Football Club Sochaux was the first French club that officially paid the players and one of the pioneers in the setup of a professional championship, originally called the Peugeot Cup. The club took its present name in 1930 after the merging with AS Montbéliard. In 1934-1935, the FCSM won the national championship, with only four defeats and 94 goals scored. Winner of the French Cup in 1937, the FCSM won the national championship in 1938.
The FCSM was less successful after the Second World War, in spite of fairly good results. In 1974, the club inaugurated its Football Academy (centre de formation), where players of international fame such as Joël Bats, Albert Rust, Bernard Genghini, Philippe Anziani and Yannick Stopyra started their career. In 1981, the club was defeated by AZ'67 Alkmaar in the semi-finals of the URFA Cup, after a legendary, snowy victory against Eintracht Francfort in quarters (video).
In 1987, the FCSM ended a 24-year presence in the First League. The next years were quite difficult for the club, with only short stays in the First League. In 2000, the FCSM won the Second League and started a new era, which culminated in 2004 with the win of the League's Cup and in 2007 with the win of the French Cup.
The FCSM was once again relegated to the Second League, in 2014. On 17 July 2015, the Chinese group Ledus purchased the club from PSA Peugeot Citroên, its main shareholder, ending 87 years of common history between the car-manufacturing company and the club it had established for the factory workers. FCSM is therefore the first European football club to be controlled by Chinese investors. Ledus is an outfit of the holding Tech Pro Technology Development, registered in Cayman Islands.
The new owner expected the FCSM to come back to the First League in 2016, which, unfortunately, did not happen.

The colors of FCSM are yellow and blue, most probably borrowed from Franche-Comté. The club's supporters use various flags including these colors, for instance:

[Flag of FCSM]         [Flag of FCSM]         [Flag of FCSM]         [Flag of FCSM]

Supporter's flags of FCSM - Images by Ivan Sache, 20 February 2016

Horizontally divided flags.
- white with two horizontal stripes in the middle, yellow over blue (photo);
- blue-yellow (photo);
- blue-yellow-blue (photo);
- blue-white-golden yellow (photo, No. 9)

[Flag of FCSM]         [Flag of FCSM]

Supporter's flags of FCSM - Images by Ivan Sache, 20 February 2016

Vertically divided flags.
- yellow-blue-yellow (photo);
- vertical, blue-yellow-blue-yellow-blue (photo, No. 25)

[Flag of FCSM]         [Flag of FCSM]         [Flag of FCSM]

Supporter's flags of FCSM - Images by Ivan Sache, 20 February 2016

Quartered flags.
- square, quartered blue-yellow (photo);
- square, yellow with a blue cross (photo, No. 25);
- square, checky blue-white, 5 x 5 (photo, No. 25)

Ivan Sache, 20 February 2016