With the FIFA WWC 2019 being played at home in France, I thought I would write a diary of my travel adventures and games attended during the tournament.

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Here is part one.

Thursday 6 June

My World Cup started with the FIFA Women’s Football congress that was taking place just before the tournament began. Although it was streamed live, it is always good to attend these events in person.

After leaving the Congress that was taking place at Porte de Versailles, I was about to go to the Parc des Princes to get my tournament accreditation when someone advised that there was a centre nearby in another building from the Parc des Expositions.

I walked to the place and when I was about to enter the centre security advised me to stop and get out of the way. There was a giant crane moving a piece of a heavy roof above our heads! Just half an hour wasted waiting for them to move it. I thought ‘what a great start to the day!’ Unbeknownst to me, things were about to get worse.

I got to the office, presented my passport and accreditation and the volunteer told me there was a problem, they could not give me my accreditation. There was a data problem. My date of birth was incorrectly entered in their system. The site manager was they only English speaking person, surprisingly, and she explained that the police would have to do the security checks again.

Such a mess a day before the tournament opener!

I was gutted. She said she had no clue how long it would take to get clearance. It could have been three days or a week, who knows?! At the end of the day, with the terrorism threat, things have to be done properly for security reasons, so I understood even if I was frustrated.

I ended up cancelling my media tickets for France v Korea Republic and Germany v China. I checked with the webmaster from the French website I write for and he told me our photographer had the same problem while another writer had a name problem.

Considering we enter our own data, I found it strange that all three of us reportedly messed up.

One can be an error, two is unlikely, three is just bizarre.

Friday 07 June

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I went back to the FIFA Women’s football congress to listen to the presentations. Then, I tried again to see if my accreditation had been validated. Sadly it hadn’t been so I knew I would miss the opening game that evening at the Parc des Princes.

I had a chat near the Louvre pyramid with a US College coach who was touring France. There were actually four NCAA teams team touring the country and attending tournament games.

Then, sadly, I went home and watched the France v Korea game on TV at home with my family instead of watching it live at the ground. To be fair, the media security entrance and check was a mess because FIFA had to install a gantry metal detector because the French President Macron was in attendance. Hundreds of photographers and media via one gantry = a mess. Even if it opened four hours before kick-off, it was not a pleasant experience for many journos.

I also heard seat allocation went wrong for many fans as it was changed during the week and their pre-printed tickets were no longer valid so they had to queue to get new ones printed.

World Cup matches attended: 0

Saturday 08 June

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I went to Nantes where my brother lives to spend the weekend with him as Nantes is quite close to Rennes where Germany v China was being played.

My accreditation re-validation came too late to make it to the ground on time, so we went to La Baule and had a nice walk on the beach.

That beach is 9 km long and really beautiful.

Two days in and still no game.

World Cup matches attended: 0

Sunday 09 June

We drove to Rennes to get to the local accreditation centre and get my pass sorted finally.

It was located close the Roazhon Park in a small alleyway and the centre was quite hidden. Funnily enough, it was busy with three Chilean journos struggling with conversation with the locals in English. There was also a big security guard making sure everything was all right in the centre.

My pass was finally sorted, we had a nice lunch at a Creperie downtown Rennes and we went back to Nantes airport as I flew back to Paris because I was supposed to get back to work in London on Monday morning.

World Cup matches attended: 0

Monday 10 June

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I was supposed to work at Heathrow but was allowed to work at our headquarters in Roissy on Monday and Tuesday rather than in my office in London. It is quite a long trip from my parents place to the Paris offices, 90 min door-to-door each way.

We have a nice canteen there with quality food at a nice price. You can get a three-course meal for about €6. Then, in the evening, I attended the friendly between ES16eme and the Colorado Buffs, one of the touring NCAA Colleges.

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Colorado’s number 22 Taylor Kornieck. She is a midfielder in her senior year who will surely make it as a pro. I first saw her with the US YNT u-19 team when they toured Europe at the La Manga tournament. Alongside Sophia Smith, she really impressed against France.

She did not disappoint on the night as her team won 11-0 against an out-of-season side featuring many u-19 players and trialists.

World Cup matches attended: 0

Tuesday 11 June

It was my birthday, so I had a quiet day at the office and flew back to London for the night as I was booked on an LHR-NCE flight in order to attend the France v Norway game in Nice.

We actually had a birthday celebration with my family for my dad and myself on the Sunday night as we were born the same day so it quite a nice few days at home.

But the World Cup was four days in and I had still not attended any games and I was itching to get stuck in.

World Cup matches attended: 0

To be continued…