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Can’t be a PSG hater anymore?

New York and Chicago PSG fans in "Section 8"

(This is Part I of a Two Part Series that I will be doing regarding PSG’s trip to The Windy City)

Any of you that follow this blog and our podcasts know that I am not exactly the biggest PSG supporter in the World. Hell, I’m proud to say that I follow Paris FC because I am not the biggest supporter of the PSG fans. They start riots, start fights with the opposition, and other bad things so much so that many of their supporters were banned from Ligue 1 away games. So, pretty much, this is where my opinion of PSG is formed. And, I think for many who aren’t PSG supporters, the same feeling persist.

But can a man change?

I am an American, and our country is full of people ‘changing’. Obama campaigned on ‘change’ (which I still laugh at). People switch political parties. In sports, I know people that support one team, one year and then the next year support their hated rival (my best friend’s brother supported the Red Wings and then the Blackhawks, crazy). The only thing it seems like we don’t change here in the US is if someone is a Chevy or a Ford man (and for me, it is Chevy).

So, when I went to the matches this weekend, I was extremely happy to finally see a Ligue 1 team here in the US. We have only been waiting for years, and that wait was finally over. Unfortunately for me, I was hoping for somebody else besides PGS. But even though it was PSG, I decided to look at the bright side of it…I get to see Claude Makelele play. And, let me tell you, he didn’t disappoint.

I was given press credentials for the match, and I want to say a big thank you to the Chicago Fire and their Communications Manager Brendan Hannan for giving this small blog the access to cover such an important game for French football in the United States. And with the press credentials, I was able to get unprecedented access to the field, post game press conference and, well, the players. The only problem with that is that you need to know French, something I lacked. I did talk to Makelele for a few minutes, mostly because I knew for a fact he spoke English.

Antoine Kombouare, very nice man.

Lets first look at the club. Paris St. Germain were very friendly as far as giving us what we wanted. We were invited into both of the post game press conferences (on Wednesday and Saturday), where I was able to ask PSG manager Antoine Kombouare more questions than I expected. After the first press conference, Kombouare talked with some of the fans that helped organized the event for the team (mostly French nationals). I was also able to talk to him. On Saturday, Kombouare and I talked outside the team bus after the game for about five minutes. I will tell you, for me, this was something really special. For years, I have been waiting for a Ligue 1 team to make it here to The States, and when they do, I am able to sit there and just ‘chew the fat’ with PSG’s coach. It will be a moment that I will never forget. Oh, and if you were wondering, he is an extremely nice guy!

As far as the players, I really wasn’t able to talk to them. But that is mostly because of the language barrier. Again, time to get Rosetta Stone out.

On Saturday, I decided to go and meet the fans. One of the followers of our site informed me that a group of PSG fans were going in the so-called “Section 8” part of Toyoto Park, which is where the Fire supporter beat their drums and wave their flags during the game. When I arrived down there, well, most of them were already drunk. But, hey, if it was Toulouse here and I didn’t have press credentials, I am sure I would be drunk. So, no harm no foul. The main question I have (and I do with anyone that I meet who is drunk)…are they mean drunks or friendly drunks. The answer was simple….friendly.

The group of supporters they had, some of them coming from as far as New York, were extremely friendly and nice people. We sat there and talked about PSG, the French National Team, and pretty much everything. Because I was covering the game, I wasn’t able to stay their long at the start, but I did venture down there at the half, where one of the PSG fans bought me a beer. Again, really nice guys.

One of PSG's younger supporters

Coming into this match, I was the total PSG hater. After this match, well, I am an American. The fans, players, coaches and staff of the team were very friendly. They were also very accessable, which is something you really don’t see in many teams. Hell, I had more access to PSG than I did AC St. Louis, that is insane!

So, after the entire experience, I can easily say that I am not a ‘hater’ anymore. A few fans of any team can always get out of hand, and we see that on the streets of Paris. But as far as my dislike for the team, I would have to say that it is easily gone. Now am I a fan of them now, heck no! I am still a Toulouse supporter (no matter how much one person on the website wants me to be a supporter of another team).

Now Nice, on the other hand, I still can’t stand!


10 Responses

  1. JHC….is it something with the city of Paris? God!

  2. As an American, Non-French blood, fan of PSG, I so wish I could have made it to Chicago. But work and family have to come first. Thanks for this site. Hopefully PSG will play closer to DC next time they cross the pond. But heck, I’ll take any Ligue 1 team….even Toulouse….

  3. Hey now! 🙂

  4. Were there less PSG supporters in Chicago than there were Red Star Belgrade and Legia Warsaw supporters ? If so, isnt that a bit disapointing ?

  5. Not really, There isn’t a big French community in Chicago compared to New York. On the other hand, Chicago has the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw. And Chicago has the second largest Serb community abroad after Vienna. So, it really isn’t a surprise.

  6. Great story, Dave. Glad you were treated so well and had so much access to PSG. Great showing for PSG to further their brand in the US.

  7. Really nice and warming post!Be my guest if you plan to come to Paris Dave!

  8. Yes, it seems to be the fashion to be bash PSG, it’s a national past-time in France. Of course, there are problems with the supporters but it’s not just at Paris that there are issues but whatever goes on there is magnified due to the national media’s obsession with the club. As a PSG fan, I find it tiresome the way the club is penalised for incidents that are more the reflection of wider societal issues that mere footballing ones.

  9. I had to miss the game because I was out of town, and I was very sad about this. However, I am going to the Fire AC Milan game sunday. I hope that PSG comes to the sister city tournament again.

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