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From Paris to Doha: Two fans show love for France with long bicycle ride



Two ardent French soccer fans are cycling all the way from Paris to Doha to cheer for the defending champions at the World Cup in Qatar, which kicks off next month.

Mehdi Balamissa, a documentary filmmaker, and Gabriel Martin, a TV producer, departed from the Stade de France on Aug. 20 and have covered around 5,000km on their bicycles.

The duo came up with the idea when they were cycling to Italy for a Nations League game last year and now hope to complete their long journey ahead of France’s opening game against Australia on Nov. 22.

“With this trip we are able to promote sustainable mobility, another way of travelling and we can show people that with your legs it can give you so many adventures around your place or maybe further,” 26-year-old Balamissa told Reuters.

The cyclists, who are covering 120km a day, arrived in Jordan this week and will next cross Saudi Arabia before reaching Doha.

Martin said that tackling different terrains on the three-month long trip was a formidable task.


“The main challenge is to cover a huge distance. Sometimes it is flat but sometimes it is climbing a lot,” he told Reuters.

France, drawn in Group D, will also face Denmark and Tunisia.

“Gabriel and I, we would not be on our bicycles at the moment in Jordan if we did not think that France would win the World Cup,” added Balamissa.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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