Back in America, soccer is starting to gain popularity at the professional level, but in France it is established and flourishing. France finished 8th in the 2015 FIFA World Cup, which is much better than the United State’s 31st place finish. I went to a match in Paris against Toulouse, and it was incredible. The energy and enthusiasm of the stadium gave me energy even though I was supporting Toulouse, and it was difficult to not join in the celebrations when Paris won. I was impressed at the turn out because the fans knew that Paris was going to win, but they were extremely excited all the same.
Right now, Olympique Lyonnais is in first place of the French League 1, and Paris Saint-Germain moved into second place after their victory over Toulouse that I saw. Paris’ team place in the Place des Princes, and it’s fitting because the fans treat the players like princes. At the beginning of the match, the announcer said the first name of the players and the whole stadium yelled the last name in response. After Paris, the team in third place is Olympique de Marseille. The purple and white of Toulouse FC are in 17th place of 20 teams in the league. They had a lot of issues with the team at the turn of the century when Toulouse FC lost their place in the second league in 2001 with financial troubles, but in 2008 they regained a place in the first league. It’s a pity they do so badly because the logo of the team is the Occitan cross which commemorates the fact that Toulouse was historically the capitol of the great Occitan region, but I have hope for the future.
In Toulouse, it’s rugby that everyone follows. The team is called Le Stade Toulousain and they won the European Cup (the most important rugby competition of Europe) four times in the last 20 years, which is the most of all European teams. Le Stade Toulousain was founded in 1907 and started strong with a national title in 1912. Normally, they play at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, which is also called the Sept Deniers stadium, and the colors of the team are black, red, and white. Currently, Le Stade Toulousain is in fifth place of the 14 French teams and I cannot wait to go to a match with Dickinson in April.