The Five Billion Person Party

Notes of a wandering American soccer fan

Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

The Doner-ization of Germany

Posted by steigs on June 25, 2008

Today’s Euro semi-final match-up of Germany and Turkey highlights something most Americans are unaware of — the vast Turkish immigrant population of Germany.  The post-World War II rebuilding of West Germany involved importing a lot of low-wage, low-skill “guest workers” from Turkey, many of whom put down roots and stayed.  It is a bit reminscent of the influx of Hispanics to the US.

It’s been a difficult relationship at times but the influence of Turks in Germany is undeniable.  For example, the quintessential street food of Berlin may be the doner kebab, a shaved meat sandwich.  (It’s yummy.)  It’s a bit like the way adapted Mexican food has become an American staple, a cultural infiltration through the stomach.

If you believe the New York Times, today’s game will be a friendly rivalry match:

If the most memorable symbol of Germany’s successful hosting of the World Cup in 2006 was the German flag displayed without shame or second-guessing, the motif this time around for German spectators are the twin Turkish and German flags flapping from countless car windows around the country.

“Of course my heart lies first with the German team,” said Rainer Krause, 63, a Berlin native who bought a red Turkish flag as well as a German one at a store in the heavily Turkish Neukölln neighborhood, where he works., “But over the decades the loyalties have grown together, there are such strong feelings of connection.”


Some Germans have gone so far as to switch allegiances from their home team to Turkey, a sentimental favorite of the tournament if not quite a Cinderella, considering its run to the semifinals in the 2002 World Cup. “It’s only fair,” said Rosie Lambrecht, who was out shopping for a Turkey T-shirt on Tuesday morning and who roots with her Turkish friends and neighbors in Neukölln. “They’ve never won the tournament.”

The Times says 500,000 (!) are expected in the public viewing area by the Brandenburg Gate.  Hopefully, it will go off peacefully, a sign of how sport can bring people together.

Someday, the US and Mexico may reach that stage.  For now, it’s not important enough for most Americans and, perhaps, too important for Mexican fans.  But it’s nice to imagine a re-match of the US-Mexico knock-out round game in the 2002 World Cup at, say, a 2022 World Cup with thousands of fans of both teams watching together in parks in New York and LA and DC…


Posted in Euros, Germany | Leave a Comment »

The Euro 2008 Beer Finals

Posted by steigs on June 6, 2008

The Guardian comes through for us, on this “Euro 2008 eve.”  Let’s play Euro 2008 through a tasting competition with a national beer for each representative!  For example, the Dutch choice:

Grolsch Weizen, 5.3%
This widely revered wheat beer, from the same stable as the iconic swing-top, is bursting with lovely flavours. But, as always with the Dutch, much depends on whether they get along in the glass.

The early favorites are obvious — Germany, Czech Republic, etc.  For example, Pilsner Urquell’s early triumph:

Czech Republic: Breezed through the group stages with its sturdy malt base, brusque hop bitterness and a mouth-feel as velvety as the revolution.

Alas, Belgium didn’t qualify for Euro 2008 else, as one commenter notes, they’d be overwhelming favorites.  (Perhaps Belgium is the Brazil of beer!) 

The winner is slightly surprising.  I won’t spoil it for you — click the link to find out.  In the meantime, I sense a theme for the next few weeks of soccer watching…

Posted in Czech, Euros, Germany, Holland | Leave a Comment »

The Euro 2008 team bus slogans!

Posted by steigs on May 22, 2008

They ran a contest for fans of the various teams at EURO 2008 to pick a slogan to paint on their team’s bus, in their native language and in English.  (Something similar happened at the 2006 World Cup.)  The results are here.  And the buses themselves, in full team color glory, are here.  (Lot of red and white teams at the tourney, it appears.)

Some slogans are pretty obvious.  The Swiss went with: Final destination: Vienna.  (That’s where the championship game will be held.)  The Germans have: Germany – one team – one purpose.

Others seem more revealing.  The French appear interested in making friends: Live together, celebrate together.  Same with the Poles: …because only sport and good fun matter.  Turkey plays the passion card: Can this bus contain the passion of Turkey?

The Italians sound a bit surreal to me:  The sky is always bluer.

But my favorite is the slogan for Spain.  It’s tinged with resignation — unlike ESPN’s ad campaign, they expect their team to disappoint them:  Whatever happens, SPAIN FOREVER.  Now that’s true fandom — whatever happens, we’re for our team. 

Posted in Euros, Germany, Italy, Spain | Leave a Comment »

Falling for the Westfalen

Posted by steigs on April 24, 2008

This weekend I was disappointed to see that Bayern Munich won the German Cup, with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund.  The Dortmunders have had a rough few years, due largely to financial problems, and could have used a cup win to cheer up their massive fanbase. 

Dortmund is in the industrial Ruhr region, a center of…brewing (mmm), among other industries.  I’d never heard of the place before I started paying attention to the Bundesliga and certainly wouldn’t have spent a day there if it weren’t for soccer.  But I’m glad I did and I’d like to get back to the Westfalen for another game one of these days — it’s one of the biggest and most enjoyable stadiums in European soccer.  I was there during better days for Borussia Dortmund, as you will see if you read on after the jump, and also got to see two Czech stars who would later torment the US at the 2006 World Cup.

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Posted in Champions League, Germany, Ukraine | 1 Comment »

I’m for the Hamburgers!

Posted by steigs on February 1, 2008

The Bundesliga is about to resume after its mid-winter break.  Bayern Munich (aka FC Hollywood) are in first but still felt the need to make plans to bring in a new coach, virtually American Jurgen Klinsmann, at the end of the season.  One of the teams lurking just behind the perennial champions is Hamburg FC. 

While a stint with Hamburg didn’t work out so well for Benny Feilhaber (now warming the bench for relegation-meat Derby County), the team has also been a rumored destination for Michael Bradley, a goal-scoring machine in Holland who is looking to move on after this season. 

I’ve had a fondness for Hamburg since a stop there in August ’01.  Want to learn more about the only never-relegated team in the Bundesliga, the city’s tawdry red light district, friendly fans, and what John Denver song a whole stadium of German soccer fans was singing along to….read on after the jump!

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