Les Bleus were playing in the Hungarian capital of Budapest last Saturday afternoon but, according to Romanian newspaper Jurnalul National, the six hapless work colleagues boarded a flight that morning that landed more than 500 miles away in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.
Budapest. Bucharest. You can see where the confusion lies.
According to Jurnalul National, the supporters only realised their mistake once they’d arrived in Bucharest just hours before kickoff. They had been drinking in the city with some Ukraine fans they had met at the airport — where neither the Romanian flags nor the language spoken by the officials at the airport made them realise that they had landed in the wrong place — and travelled into the centre of town with them on the bus.
The Ukrainians were in Bucharest quite correctly, ahead of their country’s final Group C game against Austria at the Arena Nationala, which was to be played on Monday evening.
“We thought they were Hungarian fans going to the game and we followed them, thinking that as they were from the city they knew the way to the stadium,” one of the France fans told Jurnalul National.
During the course of their revelry, it dawned on the French fans that they were in fact a long way away from the Puskas Arena in Hungary, with no chance of getting there in time to watch the world champions in action. Asked if they had travelled from Kiev by Romanian journalist Adi Munteanu, who noticed them not joining in the chanting with the Ukraine fans, the misplaced French supporters replied: “We got here by mistake. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we are not where we need to be.”
Once reality had dawned, the France supporters decided to stay put, book some emergency accommodation online and watch the match on television, witnessing the 1-1 draw from a much further distance than they’d hoped.
The group decided to remain in the Romanian capital and again watch from there as their heroes play at the Puskas Arena in Wednesday’s Group F decider against Portugal (LIVE on ESPN and ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET in the U.S.). Should France win that game and therefore finish top of their group, they will play their round-of-16 game on June 28 in — you guessed it — Bucharest. Should that happen, the hapless group will try to get tickets for that match.
“We have to learn more about Europe,” one of the group acknowledged. No kidding.
Navigating the logistics of an international away trip can be tricky at the best of times, and plenty of other unfortunate football fans over the years have found to their cost what can happen when place names get mixed up.
“Les Six de Malchanceux” (“The Unlucky Six”) aren’t the only supporters to suffer after mixing up the names of the Romanian and Hungarian capital cities.
In 2012, a huge travelling party of 400 Athletic Bilbao fans missed the Europa League final after making the exact same mistake. The supporters charted a private plane to Budapest, not Bucharest, and therefore missed Bilbao’s biggest game in years. The Basque side lost to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, so maybe it was just as well.
🇧🇪Als iemand deze twee kent of hun gegevens heeft, zeg hen dat ze vanavond welkom zijn in de Ghelamco Arena voor #GntWol!
— KAA Gent (@KAAGent) October 24, 2019
Who could forget the plight of the Liverpool fans who managed to miss their team play in the Champions League after getting their destination wrong by the narrowest of margins. The pair arrived in plenty of time to watch their team play against Belgian club Gent — the only issue being that the Reds were gearing up to play Genk (with a “k”) almost 100 miles away. Of course, the fans missed the game entirely, but there was a silver lining, with local side KAA Gent (with a “t”) offering them complimentary tickets to watch their Europa League game against Wolfsburg the following night as a goodwill gesture.
— ITV Wales News (@ITVWales) June 12, 2015
Spare a thought for the Belgium fans who made the grievous error of placing all their faith in sat nav ahead of their long road trip to watch their country play Wales in a vital Euro 2016 qualifier. The supporters simply entered “Wales” into their GPS and set out in their minibus, following the directions diligently all the way only to wind up in a small English village by the same name — some 200 miles away from the Cardiff City Stadium and in the wrong country entirely.
— Simon Head (@simonhead) April 18, 2019
Sat nav was again to blame when a group of Benfica fans decided to make the 28-hour drive from Lisbon across mainland Europe to watch their side play Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2019 Europa League semifinals. Unfortunately for driver Alvaro Oliveira, he selected the wrong “Frankfurt” from the list of options on his GPS and therefore ferried his friends to a small village in northern Germany, 380 miles away from the Commerzbank-Arena.
Thankfully, there was just enough time left for Oliveira to turn the car around and get back to the proper Frankfurt in time for kickoff, despite being utterly exhausted by that point. Unfortunately, Benfica were unable to provide a positive end to the odyssey as the Portuguese side lost 2-0 on the night and crashed out of the competition on away goals.