The opening match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup was tonight in Paris. France faced South Korea in what turned out to be an entirely one-sided affair. For example, France had 10 corners, 16 shots and 3 goals in the first half – Korean got one corner and nothing else.
Former Thorn Amandine Henry assisted the first goal and scored the last as Les Bleu rolled 4-0.
I can’t say how it came across on television, but the opening ceremonies were quite impressive in person, as a large dance troupe expressed the progress and power of women’s football. As the dancers exited past us, it was obvious that they were pumped up and having fun.
Less impressive has been the ticketing situation. FIFA withdrew already-issued tickets in order to fix seat assignment errors, but they failed to issue new tickets until two days before the match. By then, many international attendees were already traveling, with their original tickets still in hand. FIFA then failed to notify ticket holders of the changes until about 48 hours before kickoff. And they only accept paper tickets, which are hard to print when you’re on the road. Tonight, hundreds of fans showed up at the Parc des Princes with invalid tickets. The ticket office was besieged with angry fans some of whom missed the opening kickoff. It’s hard to express how incompetent the ticketing has been. And it may yet get worse, as FIFA also withdrew all the tickets for the semi-finals and final in Lyon about ten days ago and yet to re-issue the new ones.
Aside from the logistical problems, the game atmosphere was fantastic. The stadium was packed, the crowd was raucous, everyone was smiling. Even the few Korea fans I saw were having a good time. There was a huge crush at the metro station after the match, but nobody seemed too upset by it.
The match started at 9:00pm local time, which seems awfully late to this American. But there were many children in the stands and few or none of them were sleeping. I’m betting they had a matchday afternoon nap, which I am now planning for myself.
The stadium has a special offer for the World Cup – preordering concessions online for delivery to your seat. We tried it, and surprisingly it worked perfectly. At the appointed minute, there was our food! Concession prices in Paris are about a third less than what we pay at Providence Park.
We were fortunate to avoid the ticket mess – for us the entire experience was great. It was gratifying to see France show up for their women. It was fun to bump into fellow Riveters. Especially during the pregame ceremonies, it was an emotional and uplifting night. And the footy was darned good.