It has been a while since my last post but June was a busy month with work, researching grad schools, entertaining friends and family, and soccer mania!
It’s the month of soccer round these parts. France is hosting the European Championship, which happens every four years between the world cups. The games are spread out in stadiums of several major French cities.
The atmosphere is crazy. There are throngs of soccer supporters throughout Paris. Every time I get into the subway I see groups of fans singing on their way to or from a stadium or bar.
Every night they light up the Eiffel Tower with the colors of the country whose supporters tweeted the most about their team that day. It is very beautiful to see! I saw it bathed in red one Friday night for Turkey and another time when it was blue, white, and red for France.
A lot of French people are surprised that I enjoy watching soccer because there are two stereotypes working against me- I am a women and an American. I don’t go out of my way to watch soccer, and I don’t support a specific team besides the national French team, Les Bleus, but if someone invites me to a bar or to their house to watch a game I always enjoy it.
The craziness started on June 10th. Cyril found a lovely bar to watch the games in- beautiful and spacious with reasonable prices (for Paris).
France played Romania for the opening game which they won 2-1. In their second match, Les Blues won at the very last moment against Albania.
We went to the fan zone near the Eiffel Tower to watch the last of their pool games, against Switzerland. It was a nail biter that ended in a tie, even though France had controlled the ball much more than Switzerland and took quite a few more shots on the goal. However, a tie against the Swiss was all we needed to be first in the pool and move into playoffs.
The fan zone was a cool experience because of the sheer number of people and the view of the Eiffel Tower but I think I prefer watching the games in the bar. I spent my whole time there on my feet, standing as tall as possible to see over or in between the heads of fans in front of me! Thankfully I am pretty tall- one of our short friends had to go to another area by the concession stands, where people where sitting down and chilling in order to be able to see anything.
My brother Matthew, his wife Brooke, her sister Alicia, and Alicia’s husband Matt were able to visit us during this craziness too. (Hopefully I will have time to blog more about their visit later.) Cyril managed to get tickets to a game for us, not an easy task by the way. We saw Germany vs Northern Ireland.
Coming into it, I wasn’t sure who I was going to cheer for. I had a vague notion that I would support Germany just cause they were probably going to win. However, the Northern Ireland fans were so loud and crazy and funny that their team spirit infected me and before long I was rooting for Ireland too. I don’t think I have ever seen that level of enthusiasm or endurance or coordination before; they all sang the same cheers at the same time.
They literally only stopped singing to make fun of the Germans, who I would describe as more reserved and dignified.
‘Deutschland!’ Clap clap clap ‘Deutschland!’ Clap clap clap
One of my favorites was sung to the tune of ‘you are my sunshine’.
So please don’t take my Guinness away!
And of course, Will Grigg’s on fire, a song they sang over and over and over and over.
It is the unofficial anthem of the 2016 Euro!
The Germans ran circles around the Northern Irish on the field, but because of the luck of the Irish, the Germans only won 1-0.
Nothing could dampen the Northern Irish fans’ spirits. Even after they lost they stayed in the stands and sang ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’ over and over and over again. We stayed and watched them for a good twenty minutes before finally leaving. The Irish fans were still going at it. It seemed like they weren’t going to stop until they were cleared out by security. You can see it with this link Will Grigg’s on fire.
Playoffs started last weekend, and there have been a few upsets, most notably the second ‘Brexit’ in a week. Ireland gave the French team a run for their money, and the fans quite a scare during the first playoff game, where they scored two minutes into the match. However, France game back in the second half to win 2-1.
This evening France is playing Iceland in the quarterfinals: if they win they will go against Germany and then hopefully to the championship- Allez Les Bleus!!