Réunion team cause French cup sensation

By David Owen

January 5 – A team from the Indian Ocean island of Réunion has created a French football sensation by knocking second division Chamois Niortais out of the Coupe de France.

JS Saint-Pierroise travelled 6,000 miles to Western France to record a 2-1 victory. Teams from French overseas possessions such as New Caledonia and Tahiti are permitted to take part in the cup. However, it is highly unusual for their representatives to progress as far as the last-32, where Saint-Pierroise now stand.

More than 30 years ago in 1988-89, a club called Le Geldar, from the rocket-launching centre of Kourou in French Guiana, did so, but were then overwhelmed by Nantes over two legs.

Saint-Pierroise were previously best-known as a former club of Marseille and former West Ham star Dimitri Payet, who played there for a single season in 1998-99.

While by no means the best-known club in France, Niort did once enjoy a season in the French top division, in 1987-88. It was founded in 1925 by the son of the owner of a local chamois leather factory, which explains its full name.

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