Soccer in the City… of light that is.

For football and I, it’s truly a case of we’ll always have Paris. I was 18, had just received my baccalaureat, was getting ready to back-pack across the Kerela and most importantly move to Montreal for college. I had just two short weeks to say goodbye to my hometown. Just two weeks to say goodbye to France. And they were wonderful two weeks. Against all odds, Les Bleus won the 1998 FIFA World Cup on home soil. Everyone was happy (well, perhaps not the Brazilians), everyone was friends. We didn’t have tickets to any matches, of course, but crowded the plaza in front of l’Hotel de Ville. We couldn’t believe how far we were advancing into the competition and then… we won! I had never seen so many French flags in the streets of Paris before, so many people from all walks of life rejoicing together on the Champs Elysees, celebrating our Black-Blanc-Beurre team.

It was the most wonderful send off a French girl could ask for. And later, backpacking through the Kerala, everyone loved the French team me, everyone congratulated France me on winning the World Cup. Ah, those were the good old days.

Today, things are vastly different for me and for Les Bleus. People crack Zidane headbutt jokes and think we stole our spot in Group A from Ireland. Even the French loathe their football team. What a difference twelve years make. But one thing never changes. My hometown always rises up to any occasion. In the case of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, they are rolling out the red carpet for soccer fans, be they local or visitors. Can’t be in South Africa to catch the action this year? Well, how about watching them here:

Now don’t get me wrong, Soccer in the Circle at Dupont Circle was a ton of fun but can you really beat the Eiffel Tower? It’s the kind of thing that makes me really miss Paris but I guess we’ll always have 1998.

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