16 October 2008

Un match de foot !

Through his dark magic, Ilan was able to get free tickets to the exhibition match between the national teams of France and Tunisia. Given the colonial history and the current immigration situation between the countries it was expected to be a bit tense. It didn't dissapoint.

Tunisian flags outnumbered French flags by at least three to one and suffice it to say that the Tunisian supporters were more vocal than their French counterparts. (Just to be precise, most of the Tunisian supporters most likely have French nationality; they identify, however, much more strongly with their country of origin when it comes to soccer.) They were vocal not only in support of their team, but against the French team going so far as to boo all of the French players and the Marseillaise, the French national anthem. Apparently this last part didn't go over so well with Sarkozy and the Minister of Sport announcing today that any future match at which the Marseillaise is booed will be immediately canceled.

Despite the overall tense atmosphere, our experience was very good. We had good seats and, although the young guys in front of us were standing for a lot of the match, we saw the game quite clearly. I was even able to follow the action since the rules of the game are mercifully simple when compared to popular American sports like football and baseball. What was surprising, however, was the level of intensity in the crowd. Sure, this was probably more lively than a Paris-Lille game that ends in a tie, but I really can't compare the intensity to anything that I've seen in an American stadium. In short, it lives up to the stereotypes that we have for European soccer matches hold true. Here's a short video (sorry, no sound from my six-year old compact camera) of the crowd reaction to the first and only Tunisian goal.

In the end "Les Bleus" pulled it out with a 3-1 victory that left the crowd rather subdued at the end. It also needs to be noted that the public transportation system that got us and the vast majority of the other 74,000 spectators to and from the stadium was really extraordinary. Not only did we not have to wait for a train, but we even got to sit down inside. It was orderly, efficient and cheap. French infrastructure never ceases to impress.

Here are my photos from the game. Again, they're coming from my old compact camera (big cameras aren't allowed) so the quality isn't what it normaly is:
Match de foot!


  1. Hey KMuehmel--

    are you going to be in paris this summer? erin and i might be going on a european grand tour.

  2. Hey Adam B,

    Indeed we will be and, barring any scheduling conflict, you will definitely have a futon to sleep on for as long as you want in Paris.