Paris Saint-Germain, the love is growing stronger everyday

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Zounds! I'm a Parisienne, but it's still a far shot to find fans of PSG, Paris Saint-Germain, the local football team here in the city of lights. If you ask the common person on the street whether they know who won last night, most of them will look like you as if you're made of glue. It's probably stunningly obvious but Paris does not seem to have a character that lends itself to football. Unlike Boston and Baseball, Montreal and Hockey, LA and Basketball, Paris and football seem unlikely bed-partners.

Don't get me wrong, I think that football, being the national treasure and bastion of pride, ever since 1998, has its place in every nook and crany of this god-forsaken country. There are fans of PSG. But if we're going to speak about sports fans, we'd have to talk about a team that's history runs so deep that it scars the collective memories. France has such a team, and that's Marseille.

There's people all around the country brandishing their pale blue scarves. You can hear some guy in Bretagne yelling about Marseille. Their fans are rabid. They brook no argument on all matters pertaining to les Olympic Marseillaises. The goalkeeper for the french national team, their captain, also plays for Marseille. He guards the clamshell, and should he fail, which he rarely does, the fans are more likely to lynch the referee than his lordly Barthez.

So, a couple of weeks back, PSG went to Marseille to play an away game. Despite PSG's weiner-princess status, Marseille has had distinctive problems beating them. (You definitely don't want to mention this to Marseille). The game was highly hyped as being a real dinger, and it's true, PSG raises the bar when it crashes in on the rowdy southern brothers-in-arms. Still, I think PSG went the first five games without winning, or even scoring a goal. That's a very bad start for a team that finished third in the league last year.

Like I said before, I've never been a PSG fan. If there's one team I could be said to have supported it was Monaco, and, contrary to what France thinks, Monaco is not French. Last year was divine, with an epic run to the finals of the Champions League, recording a gutsy win against Real Madrid (those top heavy over-laiden golden dunderheads...sorry Ronaldo, Zidane, Beckham, Roberto Carlos, and Figo (stars of the past baby!), which was capped by a knockout performance by Morientes, at that time on loan from R.Madrid! Anyways, digression there... it was a great team, which no longer exists. Giuly went off to Barca, Rothen and Cisse to PSG, and Morientes back home to Madrid. s..s..s..sad.

So, who to cheer for? I was watching a couple of the early games and I wanted to cheer for Lens, with the addition of Eric Carriere, one of the more underrated mid-fielders, but that was bad because Lens is really in a bad way... or even for Lyon, with their fresh new crop of exciting Brazilians, plus Juninho and Sidney Govou. Any team but PSG.

As you can see from the majority of this post, I don't follow PSG. I don't have a whole sparkling tray of facts to throw out, nor players names. I don't even know the name of the coach. What I do know is that they have a player called Pauleta.


I started following Pauleta during the Euro, when Portugal lost its heartbreaker to those Grecian scene stealers. The Portuguese team was the finest most exciting team to follow in this year's Euro, withstanding of course the British team when it had Wayne Rooney. Cristiano Ronaldo was so wicked, racing upfield and around, Figo was magisterial, and Deco was, ugh gross, what a gremlin! Hiding around in the attacker's position was a rather anonymous looking player, with close cropped hair and Luke Wilson features. But, like the French team, this guy seemed cursed. No connection, no conversion, couldn't score, completely unlucky some would say, mentally lacking the winner's touch. He did seem active, but just never in the right place, at the right time. That's the attacker's job, that and to be brutally lucky. Still, after hearing Dacnar's comment, "ah Pauleta, il n'a pas chance" *(P., got no luck)" I held onto the name. And, lo and behold, he plays right here in Paris! Incredible. Exciting. Well, if he scores that is.

So, I started following PSG a bit this year, especially after their miserable start. Not severely, but enough to see how inefficient Rothen was in this midfield, how terribly uncoordinated the team was. No chemistry. Passes were all over the place and the upfield seemed always too far behind, and not aggressive enough. There's some good players on the team, Modeste M'bami, Mendy, Cisse, Rothen, Lluboja. They should be able to do something.

I didn't see the game against Marseille, but it was historic because Marseille lost, again. Hahahaha. Plus, they lost because of an auto-goal, Bixente Lizarazu did something clumsy with his head, inadvertently passing directly towards the attacker. BUT!!!!!!! (that means GOAAAAAAALLLLL! in french) Classic Stupidity in the pressure situation, what we've come to expect from those Olympic Marseille guys!

Still, nothing could top the horror of last Wednesdays crazy flat loss to Moscow. PSG actually led at the beginning of the game, and with several chances before the half-time, it actually looked like the score could have been 2-0 going into the last 45 minutes. Then, things started to fall apart. First Moscow tied it up, then grabbed two quick goals for a swift knockout to what was already an over-pressured over-denied team. The team crawled off the field, demoralised. They just had to win to get a berth into the Champions League. Flat, not to mention Mendy's lame-ass red card for swiping the back of guy's head right in front of the referee. You gotta have brains the consistency of marmalade, or one very frustrated overboil to try that out.

But I knew something was wrong, right from the beginning. Pauleta missed a very close header, M'bami broke his leg. There was a sour mood from all the negative press, coming from both critics and the players alike. M'bami said that the team didn't have a chance in hell of winning, that they were "on the side of the road." Tonight, on the radio, one of the commentators said that maybe there just wasn't enough love. The fans don't love the team. That much is obvious. They whistle with derision at any sign of weakness. There is no loyalty, no cohesion, no writhing band of merry madness cheering the warriors on. It's terrible.

So, on the LotoFoot this weekend, when asked who would win the game between Sochaux and PSG, and everyone else picking Sochaux because they had seen the debacle against Moscow last week, I stuck to my guns. I picked PSG. Why? Because, g'dammit, I'm Parisienne, and I'm going to support my team. And you know what, THEY WON! They won in magnificent fashion. Pauleta crashed two goals, and the team played together. They were motivated. The players have decided to take things into their own hands and lead their team themselves...screw the coach, who has agreed to encourage more dialogue between players and administration. Pauleta is the captain all but officially, and I know he's going to do something. Boys got heart.

Because, if there's one thing I've learned from years and years of cheering for a losing team, the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, sometimes there's more glory, drama, pain and love for a shitty team that breaks its heart for a win. The more scarred, the more banged-up they were, they more they took it out to the ice. The Leafs were like Monaco last year, one nasty scarred mini mutt you didn't want to cross paths with. I've cried over their wins, I've cried over their losses. I know to cheer them in the last period, even when the score is evily lop-sided. Because, you have to stick with your team. It's the rule for every sports fan. It's written in the book, look it up.

Which is why PSG needs some fans, because their current lot are lily-livered pea-shooters with less fealty than J'Lo's boyfriends. It starts now. Say it once say it loud. PSG, make us proud! (or, in french, dites moi un fois, PSG, oui les rois!)


mygoodness, I finally let out all my pent-up sports fanaticism, in one go!

And looking at the Eric Pryoz video makes me realize how incredibly universal the idea of little boys jerking off to the 20 minute work-out was. Those self-same little boys are now all grown up and making videos where it's the same thing, spandex, blond big hair, hip thrusts, plus a none too subtle invitation for some rug burn. Jane Fonda inadvertantly spawned a whole generation of boys who pulled the tube to girls in leg warmers and spandex asking you to give them four more. and one, and two, and three...