This just in: Europe is going nuts with football fever. (That’s soccer to all of you in the U.S.) Actually, it seems like Europe always has football fever, but even so, things are really hot in Paris right now.
The Euro 2016–the UEFA European Championship–kicked off last night with France defeating Romania. And for the next month, the park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower–the Champ de Mars–has been transformed into a great big “Fan Zone” with giant video screens for football fans from all over to gather and cheer on their favorite teams. I haven’t checked it out yet, but I’ve seen some of the effects: tons of police all around the area, signs all over the surrounding metro stations directing visitors to the football mecca, plenty of streets cordoned off. One friend who lives nearby told of getting frisked getting into his neighborhood. Another told of all the cars being towed from her street the night before everything was set to begin–and of seeing frantic car owners running down to the street in vain attempts to stop their vehicles from being taken away.
Like I said, I haven’t gotten to experience the Fan Zone yet, but I did manage to catch some of the game. Last night my band had a gig at the Australian Embassy right around the corner from the Eiffel Tower. And the game was on, of course. For a non-fan like me, it was the perfect way to experience a game that lasts for hours and ends up 2-1: by playing lots and lots of loud music while the game was on a big screen near the stage. Every so often I’d glance over. Yep, they were still kicking the ball back and forth. Time for the next song! And when anything interesting happened, hey, no worries, mate! They would replay it so many times, it was impossible to miss.
So: go France! And go Jeff de Bruges! Our chocolate is already just about gone. Time for some more….