Soccer, a popular sport around the world, generally doesn’t peak my interest.
But it was the Olympic Games, It was Team USA and Canada with each team vying for a spot in the gold medal match.
The conclusion to this particular match, one of the few matches I’ve watched from start to finish, was unreal. Every time Canada scored, the U.S. came right back to even the contest. The same was true when the U.S. scored. Canada wouldn’t go away.
But it was the U.S. who triumphed 4-3 in extra time, forcing a re-match of last summer’s World Cup final with Japan for the gold medal in London.
The thought of buying tickets never crossed my mind. Everything is so expensive here.
As I departed Worcester for London, I pondered the possibility of getting tickets. Once I arrived at our London flat, I took out my laptop and began browsing the ads on Craigslist.
I came across one particular post, which read: “Four Tickets to Women’s Football Gold Medal Match; CAT A; First Row; Section 144.”
After pulling up the seating chart for Wembley Stadium, I realized these seats were right at midfield. I replied to the listing and texted the number provided on the ad, “Are those football tix still available for gold medal match?”
Shortly thereafter, my phone lit up with a response, “So far, yes, but many people are calling.”
The asking price was 250 pounds per ticket. The first words out of my mouth were, “Holy cow. That’s outrageous.”
I got a call from, Remi Padoin, the scalper who posted the ad on Craigslist. I told him I was from the United States and wanted to see my country play in the gold medal match. I told him I’d get back to him shortly as I needed to round up three colleagues to go with me.
After asking around for nearly an hour, I was in luck. Alix Sappington, Jena Rose and Sara Schaefer agreed to go with me.
I rushed to my phone, punched in Padoin’s number and told him we’d buy them.
Having no idea who this man was, my stomach started churning. Scalping is illegal and I wanted to make sure we didn’t get caught.
Padoin told me to meet him at the Tottenham Court Road tube station at 7 p.m., roughly an hour from the time I spoke to him.
I hung up the phone and began recruiting volunteers to go with me to pick up the tickets. After another extensive search, Alix and Jena joined me, and we were off to the Farringdon tube station.
Upon arriving at the Tottenham station, I received another text from Padoin, “Hoping on the tube now. There in 15ish. Look for ridiculously long flag pole with Norway flag.”
As Alix, Jena and I made our way toward the exit and walked up the stairs, there was no sign of a long flagpole with a Norway flag. We decided to go into Burger King for a final count of our money. It was all there.
We came out of Burger King and I couldn’t believe my eyes. A giant Norway flag was swaying through the air right across the street. Padoin was holding the flagpole, draped in a Norway flag while wearing a Norwegian Viking helmet with horns shooting out of both sides.
After being so nervous about making this transaction, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was an entertaining site to see. The three of us approached Padoin. He greeted us with a smile, shook our hands, and showed us the tickets.
He even asked me if I’d like to wear his Viking helmet. I couldn’t resist. All three of us posed for a picture with our newest friend.
Minutes later, I was holding four Olympic women’s football gold medal match tickets in my hand.
It was the strangest of occurrences, but it turned out to be one of the finest moments of this trip to the Olympic Games.