Archive for November, 2012


Starving in the Famed Parc des Princes

November 25, 2012

With minutes before kickoff, proudly wearing my Seattle Sounders scarf, I asked the scalper how much he wanted for the ticket. His associate chimed in and said “€70.” I countered at €50. The scalper glanced over at his associate again and the associate shook his head no and said “€70, President’s Box.” I took the ticket and handed over most of the Euros I had in my wallet.

I wasn’t supposed to be at the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) – Sochaux match. For months I had been planning on seeing the Olympique Lyonnais play FC Lorient in Lyon the night before. But the powers at Ligue 1 moved the game from a Saturday to a Sunday night. TV rights? Blackout? Taylor Swift concert at the Stade des Lumières? Who knows but my train to Paris was heading out in the morning with or without me.

On match day in old Paris, entire streets are closed off. People are running in all sorts of different directions. Rows and rows of Paris police donning full riot gear march up and down the cobblestone streets in perfect precision — yelling at the college-aged and families alike. And then you realize that PSG is trying to shed the ghosts of hooliganism and transform to a place that is welcoming to all (this process is certainly accelerated with the team’s purchase by some very, very wealthy Qatari’s). I handed a man in a orange vest my ticket (which I thought there was about a 50 percent chance of being counterfeit) and he pointed and said something to me in French. I nodded.

I arrived about one minute into the game, soaked and starving. I figured that since I was in a 48,000 seat stadium, in one of the largest cities in the Western world, that finding food and beer would be pretty easy, but for the life of me I could not find any concessions. The older couple next to me had packed a lunch. And they happily snacked away while blowing cigarette smoke in my face.

Paris Saint-Germain - Sochaux

The scoring opened early for the home side with a screamer in the sixth minute. Six minutes later Sochaux scored on a flukey header over the PSG goalie. But in the 25th minute PSG scored off a set piece and never looked back. The match ended 6-1. Ici c’est Paris.

On my plane from Seattle to Iceland there was a woman with her family wearing a Sounders kit. When we arrived at the Icelandair Hotel, I asked her if she knew if the Sounders beat San Jose. She shrugged and said “I hope so.”

PSG finished the 2011-2012 season in second place with 79 points — the most points a second place team has ever achieved in Ligue 1. They also set the record for highest attendance average. Their match against Sochaux would end up being one of the bright spots of a very bright season. PSG’s new ownership has promised that they will build a club that will win the UEFA Champions League — glory, no matter the cost.

On my last night in Alasce, I spent the evening in my hotel room laying on my bed. I put Becky’s netbook on my belly, plugged in the headphones, and listened as Zach Scott headed a Caskey cross into goal. The Sounders won that game and like PSG would end up just short of glory by the end of the season.

After every goal the PSG supporters call out “Ici c’est,” and the crowd responds with “Paris.” And I could not help my mind wandering to those cold, dark evenings in Seattle. When we respond to ECS’s call of “Seattle!” with a spirited response of “Sounders!”