Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

Day 2 of the Two-Star Era: France Celebrates

July 16th, 2018 · No Comments · Fifa, Football, France, Russia 2018, soccer, World Cup

No one will ever accuse France of not sufficiently celebrating its second World Cup championship.

Quicker than you can say “Kylian Mbappe”, every piece of national-team apparel seemed to have that second star on it.

For those not familiar with the “star” system in international football, a team is entitled to wear on the jersey, above the badge, a star for each World Cup championship it has won.

Brazil has five stars. It looks like a constellation. Germany and Italy have four each.

France now has two, and as of the final whistle in Moscow yesterday, you can buy a team shirt with dual stars on it, just above the national chicken. (OK, a cockerell.) You probably can assume it costs more than the one-star version of same.

France kicked out the jams today, going to great lengths to celebrate the 4-2 victory over Croatia.

Consider: When the day began, the team was in Moscow. When it ended, it was in Paris. Along with hundreds of thousands of ecstatic fans.

What the French do, when they win something is have a big parade up or down the Champs Elysees. Wars, back in the day. Soccer championships, now.

The problem, as dawn broke in Moscow, was that the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, had designated today as the day the country would celebrate the championship by Les bleus.

That required getting everyone involved with the France national team back to Moscow, and we can only speculate at how, oh, unhappy some of the players and coaches and trainers might have been, given that they might have done some celebrating themselves on Sunday night.

But everyone got on the plane, and it was due to land at Charles de Gaulle airport about 4pm, with the parade starting at 5 … but the plane landed at about 5, while tens of thousands of people jammed all but a sliver of the ultra-wide Champs … and were sweating, because it was 86 degrees down there, with no place to sit.

Meanwhile, the players eventually were maneuvered onto a bus, after posing with airport staff, and the bus took off on the long, slow drive into Paris.

It devolved, for a time, into something reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson slow-speed drive back in 1994, the day before that year’s World Cup began, in Chicago.

The bus puttered across the freeways in the fast lane, doing maybe 35 miles per hour, with a fleet of motorcycle cops ahead, and behind — and about 100 other motorcycle riders following in its wake, making a nuisance of themselves and dicing with death as they rode in a dense pack.

Meanwhile, traffic on the other side of the freeway came to a dead stop as the information somehow percolated down to the drivers that the team bus was coming along … and some drivers stopped in the fast lane of the other side of the freeway — so that they could get out of their cars and wave at the team bus.

Miraculously, or at least at the time of this writing, no one was killed, and the team bus made it to a shaded bit of street near the Arc de Triomphe.

The players shifted to one of those open-top buses, and within a few minutes it turned out onto the etoile and headed down the Champs Elysees … as the long-waiting crowd went wild.

Players waved and danced and fans waved and danced — and set off red flares and smoke bombs, which was a totally bad idea, because it obscured the vision of everyone who had been hanging around all day to see the bus drive by and hope to be able to identify Paul Pogba or Olivier Giroud as they rolled past.

A bus filled with champions was not nearly enough, of course, so six jets from the French “army of the air” zipped overhead, each leaving behind a trail of smoke in red, white and blue — the colors of the French flag.

As the bus moved down the street, it seemed to pick up momentum — or it could be the president of the republic was waiting for them and getting bored.

Anyway, the dozens of gendarmes who accompanied the players’ bus, on foot, had trouble keeping up, and the tens of thousands of fans who were recording the event had even fewer seconds with the bus right in front of them.

Then it was off to a side street, near the Elysees Palace, where the happy guys were disgorged from the bus.

(And have you ever noticed how a sports team reproduces at least three phases of full human lives? The 20-year-olds are the kids, frisky and clueless; the 25-year-olds the teens, a little stroppy and keen to have their own way; and the 30-year-olds are the parents, worried about not breaking any rules or causing offense.)

They all shook hands with Macron and traded bisous with his wife, and then they posed on the steps of the palace for more photos, and Giroud insisted on another round of La Marseillaise, and the team and the president and the first lady sang it a capella …

Then they went through the palace (which is guarded by soldiers wearing gleaming silver helmets and carrying swords) and came out the back door where special friends had

been invited, and more of the same — the World Cup trophy shoved, again, into the air by team captain Hugo Lloris, and civilians thinking they could live forever if they could somehow touch it …

And even then they were not done. Macron made some remarks, noting that the players had made France proud, and then the coverage transferred into the TV newsroom with tape of all the stuff that had gone on throughout the day, and the players headed for the Crillon Hotel, to celebrate a bit more with food and, no doubt, significant amounts of wine.

And what a weekend it has been for France! Bastille Day on Saturday, with hours of military units marching down … yes, the Champs … and the championship victory on Sunday, which set the country alight — several cars ended up in the place of our small town, with horns honking and kids shouting — and the official celebration today, with jets buzzing another enormous crowd … and where do they go from here?

Back to work. Back to their vines. And over the years, the memories will fade and the video on all those cameras will be erased or lost …

But France will always have this: That second star, which only the soccer elite — like, say, the French — are entitled to wear.


0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment