French Final Four is Set: Montpellier, Chambery, Istres and Paris book tickets for Miami

The Quarterfinals of the French Coupe de la Ligue were played in Cannes, France this weekend. There were no surprises as France’s top two club teams, Champions League participants Montpellier and Chambery each advanced to the semifinals. Also booking tickets to Miami are the less highly regarded Istres and Paris clubs. As the luck of the draw would have it these two sides avoided several teams with better records and had relatively easy paths to the finals.

The lack of a transparent draw procedure resulted in some criticism in the French monthly Handball magazine, HandAction. Apparently the draw results were simply announced (without a live video) and the author of the article implied that the fix was in. As he wrote that one of the beneficiaries was Toulouse (which actually lost to Istres) the credibility of the allegation is somewhat suspect. Still, the losers to Montpellier and Chambery, Dunkerque and Tremblay, respectively, would have been favored to beat any of the other four participants. It certainly will be interesting to see the draw results of the semifinals. A nightmare pairing would be Chambery and Montpellier in the semifinals.

As an aside there are some French rumblings of discontent in regards to the Miami tournament. The discontent stems mainly from two angles. Some supporters are upset because they can’t afford to go to Miami and others just don’t like the idea of a French championship being played on foreign soil.

The Nouvel Observator Website also posted a short article last week speculating that the tournament might not take place in Miami after all. The speculation was due to a cancelled press conference and reported discord between the American and French organizers (perhaps federations?). The French League, however, offered assurances that the tournament would take place in Miami as planned. Certainly, a casual check of the LNH website shows no indications of a change in plans as practically every article mentions Miami.

LNH Website (Coupe de la Ligue News (French):
Coupe de la Ligue Website (English/French):
Nouvel Observator:
Web petition against the French Cup in Miami (French):