August 18, 2022

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Women’s Euro 2022: Blue in their English garden, in Rotherham

The first thing supporters saw when they arrived at the New York Stadium in Rotherham was the shadow of its stands. It was still 28 degrees at kick-off time. Many French people did not expect to experience such temperatures when they crossed the Channel and headed north of the country.

The usual Blue followers were not there. Irresistibles Français canceled last fall when tickets went on sale in the face of health uncertainty. Cassandra, 18, who came from Aveyron with her sister Melissa and her mother Magali, didn’t hesitate. Although her favorite player was Eugenie Le Sommer (who was not invited by Corinne Deacon), Cassandra pushed her mother to accommodate four meetings, including two for Les Bleus. Having bought a matchbox scarf, they wandered around Rotherham in search of something exciting.

“For once we can celebrate Les Bleus here! »

But the day would not have matched the atmosphere created by the Dutch and Swedes the day before in Sheffield. Nothing to disturb the public. All supporters met underlined their happiness to arrive in a calm and good-natured atmosphere. Around Banda, there were make-up workshops. French and Italian jerseys mixed with local clubs or… PSG.

Like 9-year-old Alex, it’s Englishmen who wear the capital club’s jersey. Along with his father Graham, he names Messi, Neymar and Mbappe as his favorite players. But no soldiers. Not so for 8-year-old Rosa, who was accompanied by her father, Mark. She came to see Sakina Garchou wearing a Parisian jersey. He is French but lives in England with his Italian father. “But I want France to win, so it’s nice,” said the latter.

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We see a Zidane jersey and then another PSG supporter. Tom, 27, is also English. He has been with his partner Ru for 28 years. From Sheffield since 2011, he “jumped at the chance” when he saw France was going to play a tournament next door to his city. “For once we can celebrate Les Bleus here! she says.

Manu and Benoit won’t stop posing with their Breton flag. They will arrive by plane on the first Brest-Birmingham flight and depart by coach. They are a little disappointed that they still can’t find fish and chips on the “site to discover England and the English spirit”, but show their confidence in the blues: “They have the ability to go far. »

At kickoff, New York Stadium was not full. But Blue supporters, scattered throughout the stadium, to the beat of (many) tricolor goals, make a lot of noise. We’re a far cry from the 68,000 for the England-Austria opener. If the French want to look big, they need to go to the final to play at Wembley.