Jessica soaks in the group stages of the 2019 Women’s World Cup
Editor’s note: Welcome back to A Beggar For Good Soccer, our summer travelogue miniseries from Jessica Malone. This week, Jessica takes in the start of the World Cup.
During the week leading up to the World Cup opening match in Paris, it was hard to tell that the tournament was happening – there was little to no advertising around the city. But on matchday, as I emerged form my hotel and headed toward Parc des Princes, people in France jerseys were pouring out of the metro stop and walking toward the stadium.
My excitement faded quickly as I saw the large lines extended out from the entrance gates, the result of the seat re-assignment solution to FIFA’s initial ticketing fiasco. I had arrived at the stadium two hours before kick-off, but made it to my seat with only ten minutes to spare.
It took a while to calm down – I was flustered and anxious from the hassle of getting in to the stadium, but also ecstatic to be at my first World Cup opener.
As play got under way, I finally took some deep breaths and let it all soak in. France won 4-0 and celebrated with the crowd of 45,261 after the final whistle.
Over the weekend I stopped by both the FIFA Fan Experience at Jardin Nelson Mandela and the Fare network Diversity House LeFoot to watch other group stage matches. Then, I rented a car and headed east to Reims where USA were playing their opening match against Thailand.
Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims had already hosted the Norway vs Nigeria match, and would host a total of 6 matches total during the tournament – one match every three days. Members of Italy’s coaching staff were spotted amongst the tourists at the Reims Cathedral – they were playing Jamaica in the next match in Reims.
American fans were in abundance around the city on match day. Trains from Paris to Reims were reportedly sold out. Bars and restaurants around the city were full of USA fans greeting old friends while watching the first two matches of the day.
Entry in to the stadium was easy, with no noticeable ticketing issues like I had experienced at the opening match in Paris. The crowd of 18,591 were thrilled as the ball continued to find the back of the net throughout the match. USA won 13-0, setting a new record for biggest win at a Women’s World Cup.
Follow Jessica’s journey in real time at @jessicamalone85.