The March to Parc des Princes

The United States vs. Chile match at the Parc des Princes on June 16, 2019 will be a landmark moment in the history of U.S. Soccer fandom and the American Outlaws. With tens of thousands of American fans making the trip to Paris for the match, it occurring on Father’s Day, and the quality opponent the United States Women’s National Team was facing made for a perfect day. The events started at Trinquet Village, a refurbished community center along the Seine River a few blocks from the Parc des Princes. For one day, the American Outlaws turned Trinquet Village into an American village, with over 1,500 fans joining them for a pregame event marked with an area of food, an orchestra band, and a DJ providing music to keep the mood lively and fun.

Red, white, and blue was the theme, and all who attended the pregame was dressed to support the USWNT. Chants of “U-S-A” shot through the air like fireworks as fans enjoyed the company of others and took in the atmosphere as it grew towards fever pitch. Around two hours before kickoff, fans gathered on the street to organize for the March to the Match. The March to the Match is a tradition that has been around since the American Outlaws was formed in 2007. It’s a chance for American fans to gather together as one unit, one force, and begin the support for our beloved national teams long before we enter the stadium. It’s a moment where each individual joins with others to form a moment that’s bigger than themselves, bigger than the game. It’s that moment where fans begin to show our undying love for our team as we begin to head towards the stadium.

All 1,500 attendees to the pregame event gathered outside Trinquet Village, where the American Outlaws leadership had coordinated with local police to design a march route that would take it through the neighborhoods onto the main boulevard to Porte de Saint Cloud, by which the Parc des Princes resides. A pep talk begins to rally the crowd that was growing by the minute, and all fans realize this is going to be a moment unlike any other. There were people who had been to over 100 matches mixed with people who were attending a U.S. Soccer match for the first time. At that moment, though, none of that matters. All that matter was embracing the opportunity before each of us: to turn Paris into an American pep rally for the best team in the world.

The march begins slowly to coordinate songs and chants as the fans exercise their full voices. The march took the turn down the first street into a local neighborhood, with dozens of locals coming to their windows and taking pictures or chanting along with the American mass. More American fans who had arrived late joined the march along the route, high fiving fellow fans and singing along to the chants they knew and clapping their hands and waving scarves if they didn’t. As the group made the turn to head down the boulevard towards Porte de Saint Cloud, the march had swelled to over 5,000 people, filling the entire street. The crowd then breaks out into the Star Spangled Banner, some fans even shedding tears of joy at the beauty exuded by a group of Americans showing Paris and the world that they were ready to support their team.

As the march entered the circle at Porte de Saint Cloud, the entire circle, which is normally open to traffic, was shut down as a crowd had gathered after learning of the massive march approaching. French locals were chanting “U-S-A!” along with the march, jumping into the fray to take pictures and join. The last stretch of boulevard was completely inundated by the crowd as the anticipation of approaching the Parc des Princes only increased the excitement. A group of Chilean fans had gathered on the side to do some chants, and they were met with high fives and more chants in the spirit of friendly banter. On the last turn to the Parc des Princes, the march stopped for one last cheer that would have been felt as far away as California, and surely was heard by the team as the march entered the stadium. It was a moment that will live on forever in the minds of those who participated in the march. Some fans who were participating in their first march remarked at how much of an honor it was to represent their country in such a positive show of team spirit. Fathers were walking with their daughters, mothers marching with their sons, and husbands, wives, and friends all became one big family. It was one of the defining moments of the entire World Cup, and news of the epic march through Paris quickly spread around the world. The USWNT would go on to hear that support inside the stadium too, and it helped motivate them to a 3-0 victory over Chile. There will be many other marches during the 2019 Women’s World Cup, but we will always have Paris. The American march on June 16, 2019 was the purest definition of the type of support the world should strive for from the beautiful game, and we respectfully submit that moment for consideration for the 2019 FIFA Fan Award.