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Sunday, June 20, 2010

World (Cup) Zen

German Soccer Moms cheering for Ghana -top image courtesy worldcupblog.org; Italian fan on Mulberry Street, German Expat partying at Loreley -other images © Buesing

My inner circle of 'Futbal' Maniacs is made up of an Italian, a Ghanaian and a German (myself) - our English Football nut is on maternity leave .
It has been a disappointing week of sorts. But since we are all also either residents of the US or Americans, the US team kinda saved the week for us. US soccer has come a long way!

Wednesday will be a day of an important match: Germany vs Ghana.
It will be a bittersweet day for me. I don't want either team to get booted from the cup. Of course it would be great if Deutschland won, but I am also really rooting for the Black Stars!

Saturday morning we watched Ghana play Australia. My friend J. who hails from Ghana and who has a cousin playing for Ghana in this world cup, was disappointed that the game ended in a tie. He said to me after: "Now I know how you felt yesterday (when Germany lost against Serbia)". Of course our doom and gloom did not last long, because we have quite a few Australian friends and they were excited to hang in there.
In Europe soccer fans can cause havoc. People often don't keep their emotions in check (me culpa: the husband and I did not watch the Germany vs Italy game together last world cup) and worse some people act out physically. Most of this happens during regional games and involves too much alcohol and frustration people amassed elsewhere in their lives.
I don't think I could ever become an every season soccer fan.
Every four years for a month is plenty. I am a world (cup) fan.

They say soccer is the sport of the world. And I think that is true, because it brings people together: countrymen and strangers.
It is fun to watch the game with people who are cheering for your team, but it is also great to cheer for your friend's team. In fact it is outstanding exercise in sportsmanship - an opportunity to practice how to accept a loss with dignity, as well as be a gracious winner.
Try it, practice makes perfect ;)
It might just be a sport but like everything else, it can be so much more.
Germany's experience hosting and playing in the last world cup was transformative. Constanze Stelzenmüller 2006 Op Ed piece World Cup: Germany wins - just not the Cup for The New York Times is an excellent recount of that summer.
Conclusively it might have been best that Germany did not win in 2006. I think overall this was the best possible outcome for Germany as a country.
The BBC did a poll earlier this year and Germany came out as the most popular country. For a German of my generation (born decades after the war) that is an incredibly moving result. Let's just say it has not always been easy carrying a German passport. Germany has worked very hard to better itself and to see that recognized is meaningful. I think the World Cup helped us quiet a bit in introducing modern day Germany to the world.
Of course it would be great if Germany would win Wednesday. But if you think that this is not just about sports, then like me, you might also root for Ghana.

1 comment:

labellua said...

I think the guy - Germany fan - with the sun glasses was at Lorelei 4 years ago!
See ya Wednesday!