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PARTYING LIKE IT’S 1998

What was that about the French being too aloof and refined to truly appreciate what it means to host the all-comers kegger party known as the World Cup?

That stereotype was forever shattered Friday night at the international press center in Paris, as soon as the first television images of France’s opener against South Africa flashed onto the giant video screen in the press workroom.

Immediately, the volume was cranked from barely audible to Metallica-concert level, where it remained for the next two hours--accompanied by nonstop cheering, chanting and singing by press center volunteers in the adjacent room.

Every France goal rattled the roof and had harried sportswriters grumbling over their laptops.

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Then, after the whistle mercifully brought a close to France’s 3-0 victory, 20 or so staffers snaked across the workroom floor, doing the French version of the Digital Crawl--which involves getting down on all fours, grabbing the pair of ankles in front of you and linking together like a long, inebriated caterpillar--a post-goal celebratory dance made popular in Major League Soccer by Kansas City Wiz striker Digital Takawira.

At that point, unhinged writers didn’t know whether to curse the staffers or stand and applaud.

Me, I’ll make sure to avoid the press center the next time France plays.


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