I was definitely kicking goals (or should I say GOOOOOALS) of my own when the stars aligned to be in Paris just in time for the FIFA World Cup final.
I can admit, I am not the biggest football fan but this massive sporting event is one I get into every four years (alongside a large amount of the world’s population I’m sure). To witness the passion and raw emotions on people’s faces when their team wins (or loses) is just so intense but also exciting at the same time. When you think about it, it is crazy to think the talents and actions of 22 almost superhuman men on a pitch and one ball can unite the masses together in such a remarkable way. (I am talking about the positives here.)
Let’s go back to 2014 FIFA World Cup
Last time the FIFA World Cup came around, I was backpacking my way through Thailand, residing in Koh Tao. I was mixing diving with late-night bar hangs to watch the games unfold with most often than not, a cheeky Chang beer in tow. Now I understand why a Chang beer has a certain reputation – they aren’t just called Chang Overs for nothing! I watched that epic FIFA semifinal game where host country Brazil faced that humiliating semi-final defeat against Germany – now that was possibly the most cringe-worthy game I have ever watched. Please check out the link below and possibly have the tissues on standby if you are the emotive-over-football kind – Reaction of Brazil fans in World Cup 2014 final
Watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup final was unusual. I was partying it up along the shores of Koh Pha Ngan for the Full Moon Party. Despite the raving, many of us party revellers watching the game on a massive screen on the beach. Traditional football commentary was instead, replaced with thunderous bass line drops so it was quite a bizarre way to watch it. Just think, mixing late night rampant shenanigans on a beach with football – that could be an epic win for everyone right?
Certainly, everyone was dancing up a storm and I was mostly surrounded by young, drunken but oh so excited Germans. It was probably for the best Germany won or the surrounding sea levels would have risen from the tears that would have flowed.
A whistle is blown
Fast forward to 2018 and let’s replace the Germans with their European counterpart, the Frenchies. Along with my Parisian friend Laure, we went to a bar and restaurant-filled plaza that was brimming with people. Many bars had set up extra screens outside and DIY platforms making IKEA furniture look like the stuff of luxury. Old door panels and pirate-like wooden planks on sat on empty kegs, with the latter made that extra bit sturdy with gaffer tape. If I wanted to risk my life, I probably would have been standing on it. If we were to be honest with ourselves, none of these questionable makeshift furniture pieces was ever going to make it past midnight.
Thousands upon thousands lined the plaza to watch the game on whatever screen they could. The crowd was on mosh-pit levels. The first goal scored was unbelievable with the atmosphere amongst the crowd euphoric. It was almost as if this was going to be the French Revolution 2.0 with the amount of excitement in the air (or 3.0 you include the previous World Cup win). People chanting, jumping up and down and singing in French for over 90 minutes was quite something.
Come halftime, I went to get my second pint for the game (slow drinker I know) but to my astonishment (and of many others), the bar ran out of tap beer! Shock horror! I feel that if that was in beer drinking nation Australia that would never happen – blasphemous! Crisis over as the nearby Italian restaurant would help aid my desire for continual beer consumption.
The party begins!
After the final whistle, all things were a riot as it was party time in Paris. The excitement of seeing the French FIFA World Cup win literally took some people to new heights with some opting to climb trees to continue their celebrations. As a result, there were also other just as jubilant people mountaineering cars to suss out the street party below. Furthermore, I felt for the poor bugger that would discover their car having dented roof as a result from all the celebrations. What goes up must come down as on street level, the DIY platform had its final whistle blown as it came crashing down, taking down six happy revellers.
Soon enough, a massive French flag soon engulfed a large portion of the crowd as it ran through the centre of the plaza. Along with other Frenchies, we were all walking through the main street with people going crazy left, right and centre. We were all marching on for an epic win. People banged on car windows as they snailed right through the crowd on the street. Horns, beeps, whistles and chants were the new music to all. People even got out of cars, popped out of their sunroofs to dance and wave the flag around. Some drivers even encouraged others to jump on their car bonnet to get in on the action.
This street was now party point central. I joined in on some ‘Intersection Limbo’ action and knocked my back out in the process – should really work on my flexibility there! As this was all happening, two guys on a scooter paraded through the crowd with one holding up a raw chicken, beating its wings together in excitement – that was such a hilarious sight!
Party into the night
The epic one street march across Paris (via a McDonald’s pit stop because I am classy like that) ended up at Place de la Republique. By this stage, it was dark and it seemed like the whole of Paris was slowly coming together at this central point. Further to the street party going on below at ground level, La Republique’s monument seemed to have been converted into France’s Mount Everest with people making their way to climb it. There were daring people cascading its three statues of liberty, equality and fraternity under the watchful eye of Marianne standing on top – it was seriously nuts!
There were drums banging and fireworks being shot into the air. The crowd were chanting non-stop. I had never experienced anything like it. A city in full party mode with really flexing their liberties doing almost anything. Some eccentric people were climbing on cars, peeing near cars, and standing on scooters whilst riding through the city. This was special, super wild and one epic win I would never forget – Vive La France!
Check out another wild party in Europe – What was it is really like to attend Eurovision
Just a side note: I saw no violence whatsoever. The crowds I saw were on good behaviour celebrating the FIFA World Cup win. It is sad that people do get violent and unfortunately, some lost their lives. That should never happy in a time of uniting in celebration.