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Tour de France
Steve Rushin
July 13, 1998
Over seven days and 2,000 miles, encountering besotted English fans and bedazzling Brazilian players, our correspondent unraveled the mysteries of the World Cup—and even learned how to nightclub excessively
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July 13, 1998

Tour De France

Over seven days and 2,000 miles, encountering besotted English fans and bedazzling Brazilian players, our correspondent unraveled the mysteries of the World Cup—and even learned how to nightclub excessively

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TUESDAY, JUNE 30: St. Etienne

"May I take your picture?" photographer Al Tielemans asks an English gentleman whose head is shaved—save for a four-foot ponytail—and whose body is tattooed with the illustrated history of Britain. It is an hour before England-Argentina, a mile from Geoffroy Guichard Stadium, and the man is drinking from a frothing 40-ounce bottle of Kronenbourg. "No, you cannot f——— take my picture," our friend enunciates with remarkable clarity. "Piss off."

Off we piss, ducking into a bar so grimly utilitarian that it has only the words SNACK BAR stenciled on the windows. The peeling wallpaper inside is supposed to look like wood paneling. This may well be a first in interior decor: simulated simulated wood paneling. To liven up the place, Big Al Moonie of Biggleswade, England, has hung an English flag—his name and hometown sewn to the cross of St. George—over most of one wall. Another 100 or so English, including as many as three women, have crammed themselves into Snack Bar, packing it from front door to fetid toilet.

"Are you a journalist?" asks a skinny, pop-eyed, prominently Adam's-appled 18-year-old with a close-cropped head.

"Yes."

"Then you should leave," he says. "You shouldn't be here."

"Is that advice or a threat?"

"Decide that for yourself," he replies.

"What's the problem?"

"What's the problem?" he says. "After what the journalists have done to us this week?"

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