After a successful trip to Saint-Malo, we went to Vannes the following day to watch Japan v Paraguay and Germany v Haiti.
In part 1, I forgot to mention that when doing press, the deadlines are sometimes tight. You need to publish ASAP, especially when you have exclusive quotes like I did after the France v Netherlands game.
So we ended up stopping on the way back to Nantes in a McDonalds to get our dinner and some wifi access. You can imagine the scene – a half-empty restaurant and two geeks on their computers doing interview transcriptions.
The ride from Nantes to Vannes was relatively short at around 90 minutes and was uneventful except for an accident that led to congestion and the police trying to catch drivers out with the new 80kmph speed limit. When the limit was 90 for so long, it is not that easy to change!
Vannes was the headquarters of the tournament with the LOC team based in town and the semi-finals and finals played there. The main entrance to the ground was very picturesque looking more like a castle.
The parking entrance was well hidden and the press parking, named P3, was actually located in a school. It was quite an unusual set-up. You then had to get to ground via the VIP/press special “red carpet” that took us through heavy security.
The Vannes press area was nice as they had us in separate boxes of five, rather than the usual single, cramped table with 20 people around it. Those boxes are normally used for the business tickets and came equipped with a fridge and table with the seats outside to watch the match.
So, we were late due to the traffic and only saw the second half of Japan defeating Paraguay by six goals to nil. At this stage, I would not have guessed that Japan would go on to win the tournament.
Then came the main game for us – Germany v Haiti. As it was matchday 3, Germany were already through and Haiti already out so the Germans duly rotated their squad.
The main attraction was the Haiti fans who were noisy and colorful. They certainly entertained the crowd with their chanting and dancing. They were also very vocal, shouting at the players and referee’s ‘mistakes’. A few of them were standing two metres behind the fourth referee and the poor woman got an earful many many times.
Germany won the game 3-2 but the FIFA POM went to the Haiti forward, Nerilia Mondesir, who scored a brace. Remember the name because she is a rough diamond now but might become a very good player in the future.
Then came the post-match press conferences and the German coach Marian Meinert barely stayed two minutes. She answered the standard FIFA opening question and then another one before leaving as no-one was interested in asking anything. Apparently, for the Paraguay coach’s conference earlier, there was no one even in the conference room.
The Haiti manager got a lot more questions as he was French and the French journos were happy to fire questions at him. There was a translation service that was useful, but unable to catch the nuances of specific football-related questions. Hearing the translations of the Spain and Japan managers was interesting, but for anything in French or English, I would not use that translating system.
The FIFA POM also received a lot of questions and it was nice because she spoke French (Mondesir plays for Montpellier who reached the Champions League quarter-finals last year), but old-school French, like the Canadians speak.
Overall, my second day at the World Cup went well. I then had a couple days off with my parents, niece, and nephew who were on holiday down the road in La Baule.
Football and holidays, you cannot ask for more!