Friday, June 23, 2006

Berlin, Berlin, Wir fahren nach Berlin

Unless you live in the United States or under a rock (or as they say in German, "hinter dem Mond leben"), you would be aware that the biggest sporting event in the world is currently happening right here in Germany. This sporting event is this phenomenon called the "World Cup" (Fußball Weltmeisterschaft in German, or WM for short). As an American, I never thought that I would get completely absorbed into the football culture outside our dear, dear country, but oh Lord. My life in the past two weeks has been taken over by football, football, football.

The opening game was June 9 and was Germany against Costa Rica. Since then, I have watched about 40 of the 45 games that have already happened. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Three games a day until this past Tuesday and living with Germans that are really into it...well, I've found myself wasting away in front of the TV. However, I'd like to point out that the Germany vs. Poland game was simply amazing (only goal made in the last minute of overtime? Awesome), the goal that Joe Cole made in the England vs. Sweden match was fantastic, and it's a pity that the US is out of the Round of 16. (But Beasley is still the man.)

Ashley and I have decided that we are in favor of Germany winning (naturally). We also have "claimed" German players...meaning, we've dubbed them hot. She likes Podolwski and I like Ballack. We've been typical women sometimes; we watch the games and comment on how hot players are. I do that with Heike as well, though.

The atmosphere here in Berlin is indescribable, but I'll try to explain it: Electrifying. Exciting. Loud. Energetic. Crazy. Chaotic. You get the point. There are fans from every corner of the world coming to enjoy the atmosphere, whether or not they have tickets to games. Every restaurant and cafe (or almost every) has a TV on which customers can view the games whenever they're on. And when games aren't on? Customers can still watch commentary on past games or predictions on who will win the next.

In addition to the excess amount of TVs everywhere (including huge Jumbotrons at major sites like Brandenburger Tor and Treptower Park), the German patriotism is unbelievable. I don't think I've ever seen this many German flags before in my life. They're on cars, buildings, shirts, people's faces, the U- and S-bahn. Everywhere you look, you can see Schwarz-Rot-Gold. In Der Spiegel (a magazine equivalent to Time), there was an article saying that the German flag is sold out nearly everywhere and production in China is having a tough time keeping up with the demand. Additionally, four times as many Deutscher Fußballbund jerseys have been sold as in the last World Cup in 2002.

I've been to various screenings of various games. For the US vs. Italy game, I went to the Brandenburger Tor Fan Mile with a few other Americans: Mike, Dan, Drew (visiting from Tübingen), and some of Drew's friends. We were in a vast sea of Italian fans who didn't understand Dan yelling profanities. However, Drew and Dan understood the Italians whenever they said anything about us. I also sat in Treptower Park and watched the Brazil vs. Australia game, as well as South Korea vs. France. Yesterday I went to see the US vs. Ghana and Czech Republic vs. Italy game there, too.

However, today was probably a highlight of the whole WM experience for me. I had tickets to the Tunisia vs. Ukraine game and Hugo came with me. It was pretty exciting and you could feel the tension in the air. The Olympic Stadium was completely full with the 72,000 spectators chanting, screaming, booing, and clapping. Unfortunately only one goal was made by the Ukrainians (number 7 Shevchenko) and the game could've been more exciting, but I can't complain. How many people can say they went to a World Cup game during their study abroad year? (Besides Ashley and Cam, I'm sure others can, but still...that's not my point.) I don't know what else to say, but it was definitely more fun than the hockey game I saw in Turin for the Olympics. (Even if I saw my own home team there.)

My support currently is with the German team for many obvious reasons. They play again tomorrow against the Swedes, which should make for a thrilling game. Tomorrow I'm also turning the big 2-1, but how anticlimactic since I can already legally drink here. I can even drink on the street! But even so, I think I will celebrate by watching some more football...

Lastly, "Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin" means "Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin." The Germans keep saying that, but other teams have their translations too. I've heard "¡Berlin, Berlin, vamos a Berlin!" and others, which I'm sure is the same. Who will make the final? God only knows, and I can only look forward to July 9.

I will update this later with pictures at some other point...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I told you, we have a mini World Cup fever at my work palce. They more hoping one of the South American county win. When I told them that you are going for Germany, you can imagine the reaction. On the other hand, the Mexican rather the German wins then their rivailry country. It is so cute watching them cheer. I can imagine how excited it must be in the heart of Germany during the World Cup. Enjoy it, it will bring back great memories later on. Of course, we women watch for the hot players; just like the men watch for cheerleaders. Nothing wrong with admiring those hot bodies.