The Roar
The Roar


Travelling halfway across the world for a 'Domestic Cup' game: Why Coupe de France is the biggest football competition

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Roar Rookie
3rd April, 2024

I can already hear what you’re saying.

Seriously, mate. Surely the FA Cup in England or even the DFB Pokal in Germany are way bigger.

Now in terms of popularity and prestige, sure you may be correct however let me describe what I mean by biggest.

Now naturally the DFB Pokal features German teams and the FA Cup includes teams from England but also a handful from Wales and even the Channel Islands.

However, the scope of teams on show in the Coupe de France outshines that by far in my opinion, and let me tell you how.

Now firstly let me pose a question to you, what’s the furthest you or the team you follow has travelled for a domestic football match?

Let’s use my hometown team Perth Glory, whose longest trip in a season is to Wellington, 5,258 kilometres away.


Now don’t get me wrong, to travel that distance and play a game of football in your own federation’s league and cup system is some feat and in fact one of the longest away trips in the world.

But to some of the teams that compete in the cup, that is child’s play.

To set the scene, let’s pick a match from this season’s edition of the tournament, FC Saint Méziéry versus AS Pirae.

Now reading that you would assume that it looks like any other French football matchup until you see that the visiting team is not coming from any other French city or town.

Instead, cast your mind to the place you’ve probably put on your travel bucket list, Tahiti.

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Yes, you’re reading correctly, AS Pirae, a team from the tropical oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is playing a Domestic Cup match in a rural town just a couple of hours outside of Paris.


Oh and for all of you wondering, just a measly 15,825 kilometres separate the two teams.

So, how is it that a team from Tahiti can play a competitive game against French opposition you may ask?

The French Football Federation invites teams from overseas French territories over to compete in the cup against mainland teams, in a show of friendship and solidarity between the territories and mainland France.

So as well as Tahiti, teams from Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Réunion, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon all nominate a team of theirs to compete in the tournament.

All because yes, as crazy as it is, they all are just as equally a part of France.

And just to bring the point home even further, for Pirae to even travel to their cup tie, technically they would have travelled from France (loosely) to presumably the US, to get to their game…in France.

And to say we thought A-League and MLS players had some of the longest domestic away trips in football.


As well as the unusual distances between opponents, the crazy matchups don’t just stop at kilometres apart between opponents.

For that, we turn our attention to two editions of the cup final, 2018 and 2000.

The 2018 final featured the usual opponent when you think of French football, Paris Saint-Germain, but also featured third division side Les Herbiers, whose value at the time was approximately €1.8 million.

Let’s just say Neymar’s reported wage per week at the time would pay for the club after just over two weeks.

While the tale of Les Herbiers is an incredible achievement, we turn our attention to Calais RUFC and they are the story even Hollywood producers would crave.

Office workers, teachers and dock workers. That’s what the amateur side’s first eleven was made of when they beat first-division regulars Lille and Bordeaux on the way to the final against Nantes.


Expectedly they fell at the final hurdle but just put that into perspective. Take the best Sunday league team in Australia and put them in the Australia Cup final against A-League opposition.

Now of course the scoreline would be probably, well, sickening at best but the thought of them even being there and the support they would garner along the way, truly is the magic of the cup.

If there is anything I know about Australian sports fans, we all love an underdog story.

I mean just look to the summer that has been with the West Indies test victory over Australia in Brisbane.

Sports opinion delivered daily 


While this season’s edition of the Coupe de France did not see any amateur or even semi-professional clubs make the final four, Valenciennes, a second-division side who currently fighting relegation down to the third, bravely made the semifinal where they lost to Lyon.


While it did not pan out for the underdog at this stage of the tournament this year, it is still an amazing experience for a football lover to join the ride and witness some magic of the cup from this great competition.