EDIT a day after Germany got kicked out of the 2018 Word Cup: YES, the title is still correct. Read on to find out why!
I’m not really interested in football, although I do watch some international games, especially if Germany plays England.
One of my online students told me about his experience watching such a game in Germany and I asked him if I could use it as a blog post. He said yes, so with a big thank you it’s over to you, Stephen:
Sport, and in particular football often imbues an almost tribal rivalry and it’s often cranked up when countries play each other in international competition.
22 years ago the European championships were held in England and at that time I was a guest worker in Germany, specifically Stuttgart.
England played Germany and on the evening of the game one of the large communal squares in the city was cordoned off for people to watch the game.
As is the German way there were beer outlets all around the square and I’d guess 10/15,000 people congregating in anticipation of the match.
I’ve never seen so many German flags and as the game progressed it soon became evident that I was becoming quite isolated as a lone Englishman in this somewhat vitriolic throng of football fans.
Naturally as the game went to penalties the tension hightened and although I didn’t understand what was being said it became apparent that some around me had tumbled to the fact that I was English.
Now at that time football hooliganism was commonplace, not just in Britain but in other countries, however I will say that the problem was termed the English disease as we were often the primary instigators in most cases…sadly…
Now just imagine:
Germany score the winning penalty to go through to the next round and England go out. The unbridled euphoria displayed by the people around me made my hairs stand on end and I’ll be honest I felt somewhat intimidated at that moment.
That was until one of the lads around me said: “Not a good way to lose on penalties. ”
Instantly another person commented: “Not really a good way to win either.”
I just nodded politely and started to make my way our of the crowd when someone said:”Would you like a drink ?”
Never have I felt so welcome, so safe and part of the evenings edifications!
That experience touched me, it also made me realise that alcohol and football can be a positive experience.
Because of that evening I became a fan of the German national team, in some ways as a thank you to those people who welcomed me into their celebrations irrespective of my nationality. They were as warm as toast that night. Perhaps a football fan would identify a little more than someone who doesn’t have a passion for the game I don’t honestly know.
But I do know this: the Germans can and do behave in a manner in which foreigners feel safe even when you factor in sport and alcohol.
That and their team is rather good ??
I’ll buy another national team shirt and I’ll have the word’s ‘Inselaffe’ printed on the back.
I do it at all world cups now as a thank you to those lads and lasses who made me feel like one of their own.
Vive La Mannschaft!
Thank you very much, Stephen, for sharing your experience of this football game with a fantastic ending. I wonder if any of my readers have experienced similar ….