“This Coupe de la Ligue was very important; we owed it to ourselves to shine in one of the domestic cups.”
The comments of Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc after their 2-1 victory over Olympique Lyonnais in the League Cup final. I was at the game to witness the final and the state in which French football is currently standing, unfortunately it’s not a state worth boasting.
Having purchased a trip to Paris four months prior to the final, I didn’t have a clue that I would be one of the lucky eighty-one thousand spectators in the Stade De France that night. Once I realized that the cup final landed on the day of my trip, I immediately applied for tickets. After waiting just thirty minutes in a queue of hopefuls, I was sent an e-mail confirming our tickets to the final.
I’ve been to tournament matches before, including a semi-final in Wembley, but never to a foreign final. I was very interested to see if comparisons could be made between the two countries, how the fans conduct themselves for the game, and how the reactions are during the game.
Purchasing the tickets had told me how different things would be from the beginning. Getting a ticket for a semi-final in the F.A Cup often means waiting in long lines. It is considerably different from just going onto the Stade De France website and selecting ‘purchase tickets.’ The laid back attitude would follow all the way to the end, which in my opinion is a better way of watching the game.
I left for the train at 6pm, trying to get there as early as possible to soak in the atmosphere. We arrived at the station twenty minutes later and left the train to enter a festival-like-area. This area had dance music blaring from the speakers and both sets of fans were talking and enjoying themselves. Could you imagine that happening in the UK? Both fans getting together and enjoying each other’s company. Just the mere suggestion of it is laughable. Police were of course on standby if any trouble were to happen, but the last thing anyone wanted was trouble. Everyone had purchased their ticket to enjoy the day, not just to watch football.
After enjoying a couple of beers (€4 for small, €7 for large) we headed to the stadium. I was stopped halfway through by a policeman asking for our tickets, he wanted to see if we were in the Lyon or PSG end. Having no idea where we were going, I joked with the policeman saying ‘we don’t know what fans we are, were from the UK’. The policeman then allowed himself to smile at the joke and said we were PSG fans and we headed straight in.