The opening match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup was tonight in Paris. France faced South Korea in what turned out to be an entirely one-sided affair. For example, France had 10 corners, 16 shots and 3 goals in the first half – Korean got one corner and nothing else.
Former Thorn Amandine Henry assisted the first goal and scored the last as Les Bleu rolled 4-0.
I can’t say how it came across on television, but the opening ceremonies were quite impressive in person, as a large dance troupe expressed the progress and power of women’s football. As the dancers exited past us, it was obvious that they were pumped up and having fun.
Less impressive has been the ticketing situation. FIFA withdrew already-issued tickets in order to fix seat assignment errors, but they failed to issue new tickets until two days before the match. By then, many international attendees were already traveling, with their original tickets still in hand. FIFA then failed to notify ticket holders of the changes until about 48 hours before kickoff. And they only accept paper tickets, which are hard to print when you’re on the road. Tonight, hundreds of fans showed up at the Parc des Princes with invalid tickets. The ticket office was besieged with angry fans some of whom missed the opening kickoff. It’s hard to express how incompetent the ticketing has been. And it may yet get worse, as FIFA also withdrew all the tickets for the semi-finals and final in Lyon about ten days ago and yet to re-issue the new ones.
Aside from the logistical problems, the game atmosphere was fantastic. The stadium was packed, the crowd was raucous, everyone was smiling. Even the few Korea fans I saw were having a good time. There was a huge crush at the metro station after the match, but nobody seemed too upset by it.
The match started at 9:00pm local time, which seems awfully late to this American. But there were many children in the stands and few or none of them were sleeping. I’m betting they had a matchday afternoon nap, which I am now planning for myself.
The stadium has a special offer for the World Cup – preordering concessions online for delivery to your seat. We tried it, and surprisingly it worked perfectly. At the appointed minute, there was our food! Concession prices in Paris are about a third less than what we pay at Providence Park.
We were fortunate to avoid the ticket mess – for us the entire experience was great. It was gratifying to see France show up for their women. It was fun to bump into fellow Riveters. Especially during the pregame ceremonies, it was an emotional and uplifting night. And the footy was darned good.
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3 thoughts on “Riveting in France: Opening match”
Lovely attacking flair from Les Bleues, but, oh, my, some of the defending! I’m sure Diacre will have some words for her backline tomorrow at the team meeting.
What’s kind of sad is that the ROK is not really a bad team on the international level; there are probably half a dozen sides that would have done worse against France than the Taegeuk Nangja. We’ll see them over the next couple of days…
Henry is truly a gift. Here’s her stat line from tonight’s game:
1 goal (2 chances)
2 chances created
1 key pass
93% pass completion (57 passes)
9/11 defensive challenges won
3/4 aerial duels won
1 foul won
7 ball recoveries (1 ball lost)
She was the top-rated player on the pitch per InStat; Renard, Le Sommer, and Bathy were 2-4.
Something else we noticed is that there seems to be almost no awareness locally of the World Cup. We saw signage at the Gare Nord train station but no place else. There are posters in the metro stations for an upcoming men’s Euro qualifier versus (I think) Albania, but none about the WWC. Shopkeepers that I spoke to gave me blank looks when I mentioned the event – one guy proceeded to tell me how he likes AC Milan better than PSG. The Nike store has a tiny section of team wear for France, Brazil and England in women’s sizes and one France (women) shirt in men’s sizes. But no advertising and the staff at the store expressed no enthusiasm for the World Cup at their doorstep.
The actual supporters at the stadium were as into it as Riveters are for Thorns – singing songs, wearing face paint, etc. But the general public: nothing. Perhaps, as with Netherlands at the recent Euros, with FFF success will come some viral recognition.
Wow. “Offensive sterility” (or possibly “defensive sturdiness”) looks to be becoming the story of the group stage. Australia hapless in front of Italy’s goal. Argentina playing catennacio and frustrating Japan, the Netherlands needing 90+ minutes to get a single goal against the Ferns (who looked FAR better than I’d thought they would…), and Canada needing a centerback to score against Cameroon.
It’s turning into a pretty fun and surprising group stage so far.