Autzen Stadium Sees Successful First International Soccer Game

Jul 24, 2016

Autzen Stadium welcomes the International Champions Cup on Sunday, July 24. The game ended with Paris Saint-Germain triumphing over Inter Milan, 3-1.
Credit Kira Hoffelmeyer

Just over 24,000 fans attended the International Champions Cup soccer match at Autzen stadium Sunday. Supporters of the teams, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, were treated to an exciting game. PSG scored 3 goals to Milan's 1. Our reporters spoke with attendees before and after the game. First, we hear from KLCC's Kyra Buckley.

Before the game I checked in with a player and coach from Eugene's Lane United FC team.

Vicente Mora is from Spain and has played soccer since he was 5. He says soccer may seem like a bigger sport internationally, but there are plenty of fans right here in Oregon.

Mora: "Maybe our culture in Spain about football is bigger than here, but not about the number of fans."

Mora says he's excited to see Paris Saint-Germain play.

John Galas is the head coach for Lane United Football Club. He says there are international soccer players already here in Eugene, and the sport is growing in the Northwest.

Galas: "We're in a wonderful spot in Eugene, in the Willamette Valley, and you see all the way up Cascadia the growth of football in this area, it's just an exciting time to be a fan, to be a coach, to be a player in this area, in this country. It's the best sport in the world and that's why it's a global sport."

The diverse crowd reflected soccer's global appeal, even though it was not as big of an event as an American football game. 

I'm Kyra Buckley at Autzen stadium. Now to Angela Kellner who spoke with fans after the game. 

With Paris Saint-Germain victorious over Inter Milan, William Franklin and his girlfriend Emily Ford of Eugene were all smiles after watching their team win.  

Franklin: “Yeah, I’m a huge PSG fan and she’s my girlfriend so I made her come with me.”

Emily Ford and William Franklin are from Eugene and celebrated PSG's win.
Credit Angela Kellner

Ford: “Pretty much only into soccer because he’s in to soccer, but I like to watch it. I like PSG for sure. It was crazy to see something other than like American football played here.”

Franklin: “A bunch of goals, I got to see all my favorite players for PSG, so it was a ton of fun.”

Devoted fans lined up for more than an hour after the game, standing behind a gate by the PSG locker room. They shouted in multiple languages, trying to get their favorite player’s attention. Male fans took off their shirts and shoved them through the bars for an autograph. One dad held up his kid to the gate so the PSG player could sign the back of his shirt.

“I got an autograph from the best player!”

One young woman burst into tears after getting her autograph. Diehard soccer fans are the heart and soul of the game, and they hope to see more of this type of football played at Autzen Stadium. For KLCC News, I’m Angela Kellner.

The fans line up by the PSG locker room to get autographs from their favorite players.
Credit Angela Kellner

And I’m Kira Hoffelmeyer.

There were diehard fans of both Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan, but also people who came just to see the game.

“I could care less,” says Portland resident Eric Ohman when asked what team he would like to see win. “I just think it would be really surreal and awesome to see these two teams I’ve watched on TV for so long actually in Autzen Stadium. I mean, I went to U of O, so it’s just really bizarre to think Edison Cavani and Javie Pistoria are going to be playing where I watched like La Garrett Blanc and Dennis Dixon.” 

Ohman says he’s been to a lot of Duck games, and it’s odd to see people coming to Autzen for soccer.

But Payden Knight has never even been to Autzen Stadium.

She recently moved here from Utah — home to Real Salt Lake — Knight says she enjoyed herself at the game, but thinks Real games are more fun.

“They’re a little bit more fun because you know their chants and their fight songs or whatever, and people are always singing them, but it was still pretty fun," says Knight.

This is one of 10 national games played during the International Champions Cup, and the first international soccer match ever played at Autzen Stadium.

Follow Kira Hoffelmeyer on Twitter @kirahoffy