Search icon


07th Jan 2017

This has to be one of the longest ever away trips for a domestic football match

One hell of a journey.

Tom Victor

If you thought Plymouth Argyle’s 300-mile trip to Liverpool for their FA Cup meeting was tough, it’s got nothing on one of the games in the Coupe de France.

Clubs from several of France’s overseas territories take part in domestic cup competitions. And some of France’s overseas territories are quite a distance away.

The earlier rounds of the competitions are split into regional fixtures, with teams from Réunion, Mayotte, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, New Caledonia and Tahiti all playing their neighbours to cut down on travel.

However, once the competition reaches round seven, all bets are off.

And it’s that situation which has produced a meeting between AS Excelsior of Réunion and Ligue 1 Lille – meaning Excelsior have a 9,500km trip for their away fixture. To put that into context, that’s almost the distance between London and Tokyo.

Excelsior have already beaten Réunionese teams AS St Philippe, Trois Bassins FC and AS Saint-Suzanne, before making the 9,400km trip to beat French amateur side Avoine on penalties in the seventh round.

They were the only team from an overseas territory to make round eight – though two others were defeated in penalty shootouts – and have been rewarded with a match against 2011 cup winners Lille.

In an interesting twist, the fixture brings together two former clubs of French Euro 2016 star Dimitri Payet.

The midfielder, who was born on the island of Réunion, began his professional career with Excelsior before moving to the mainland, and spent two years with Lille later in his career.

We wonder if he’ll be tuning in.