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Soccer Hangover

I spent the 4th of July in a most un-American way, namely watching Fussball in an Irish pub full of excited German and Italian fans. I do have to note that, in DC at least, the coverage of the World Cup has been excellent and widespread and it does make me think that perhaps the U.S. audience is slowly starting to take an interest. Or maybe it’s just all those foreigners dominating Washington.

Being part German, I had a stake in the game and, based on the German team’s great performance in the World Cup, I had high hopes too. Which means that I did not truly enjoy watching the game because my stomach was clenched and my nervous tension kept growing throughout the playing time. I’m not going to give a rundown or play-by-play because, for someone having grown up in Germany, I know laughably little about the actual game, but it was a close one and quite exciting. And, for the German fans, heartbreaking.

For the fans in that particular Irish pub however, the game was made emphatically even more nerve-wrecking and tense because, in the second round of overtime with maybe 5 minutes left – the satellite went out. Almost as one, the entire soccer-watching pub turned from the TV screens to the bar and the helpless people behind it, and demanded the return of the game.

You try explaining to a mob of hyper, beer-swilling sports fans that since the thunderstorm outside has affected satellite transmission, you are completely powerless to do anything but call someone with cable and ask how the game’s ending. There were calls for Telemundo (Bartender: “You don’t understand. It’s all satellite. We can’t get any channels because it all comes form satellite and that’s out due to the weather.”) and ABC (Waitress: “There is no TV because there is no satellite!”) and frantic attempts to call up some game-relevant information on wireless networks and cell phones. It would have made a perfect commercial for cable, or maybe for Verzion Wireless or some such service.

Can’t get the game when you need it? Switch to [insert company name] and always have what you want at the tips of your fingers.

Eventually, the picture came back on, in time to show the second and utterly demoralizing goal against Germany in the very last possible minute of the game. Ouch. And then of course the replay. Of both goals, so closely together. Ouch again.

I was really hoping for a win by Germany because the World Cup and the team’s successes have brought such a great atmosphere to Germany (see also previous post) and I did not want that to end. It made me hopeful to read about a happier, more optimistic Germany, where people were friendly and open to visitors, and the flag was not some intimidating tainted symbol best avoided but a banner for joyful celebration, inclusion and soccer parties. And I was afraid a loss might endanger this new Germany I was hearing about.

So, loosing sucked, and I’m actually surprised at how much it sucked, since I’m not normally a big soccer or even sports fan. And even now I’m not too keen to hear about Italy and would rather just avoid that topic altogether (no, I do not hate Italians, and now that I’ve been hearing hints about the scandals in their own soccer league, I’m a bit less bitter about their happiness at advancing in the World Cup – but I’m still bitter). We’ll see how I feel after July 9th.

In any case, it looks as though my fears regarding what a loss might do to the new German Lebensgefuehl were somewhat unfounded. Yes, when the Italians “pulled the plug on Germany’s World Cup party” there was terrible disappointment and dreams were dashed but overall Germans remained positive, supportive of the team and took this defeat almost in stride.

And, as this article from Der Spiegel argues, even though Germany did not win, hosting the World Cup brought the optimists, who do exist in this country after all, to the forefront and had a lasting impact on the mood in Germany. According to another article (it’s in German), the only people disappointed by the World Cup party and its happy form of patriotism are the bordello owners, who had few customers because men who are concentrating on soccer apparently do not also want sex, and the Neo-Nazis who do not like the kind of inclusive free-form patriotism on display in Germany these past weeks.

I’m crossing my fingers that the new Germany is here to stay.

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One Response

  1. The mood here in Berlin is still tremendously positive. Despite the threat of thunderstorms, almost a million people turned up at the Fan Mile to watch Germany beat Portugal last night. We went to another public viewing place, the Kulturforum adjacent the new national galery near Potsdamer Platz. Not quite so full, a very relaxed atmosphere, but lots of cheering as the German team (with the help of one of the Portugese players) began shooting goals in the second half. Now the team is being celebrated as though it had won the world cup! No matter, its great to watch. Klinsi for president!

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