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Most travelers do not spend a lot of time thinking about soccer, especially when  vacationing in Europe.  Well, maybe you should.  Read our caution about soccer events in Europe and duck if there is a professional match in a town on your itinerary.

 

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Travel Advice -  Watch out for those soccer fans

In Europe and most of the rest of the world, soccer is an extremely important sport. Soccer fans worldwide are very loyal to their teams, and in some towns, most action slows when the local team is playing. Americans do not appreciate the enormous appetite that the rest of the world has for soccer and that may lead to some difficulties during travel.

I was surprised to find that numerous pubs in London close on the afternoon of major soccer matches .  I was amused.  I thought that it was really something that a business would close so that its staff could watch the game. I was soon corrected by the owners of these establishments who told me that they closed in fear of damage that might result from the after-the-game antics of the crowd who could be elated that their team won or depressed because the team had lost.

I was even more surprised to find out that “soccer fever” extends across the world. Folks who appear to be normal, rational people go nuts when a soccer game is on.  We were cruising the Aegean when France won the World Cup several years ago.  If we stopped in a port and there was a game on, it was as if time stood still until a victor was declared.

 

We happened to be in France during the Euro 2000 Soccer Championship, which France won (seems to be a trend here). We were in Colmar, France when the team advanced to the finals and the town went wild! We were in Paris when the team won the championship and Paris went wild! It was estimated that there were 2,000,000 French citizens on the Champs-Elysees and Place De La Concorde after the game. Unfortunately, the celebration got out of hand, arrests were made, and stores were damaged. We were out and about after watching the match on TV but returned to our room when we realized that the crowd was celebrating a bit too strenuously to guarantee public safety.

So, keep an eye out for sporting events and the crowds that go with them.

 

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