brought to you by Jonathan S.
To be honest, sports in Germany aren’t as diverse as it seems. There are of course excellent figure skaters, rowing teams and even boxing hampions (but the Klitschko brothers are originally Ukrainian), but the focus lies on soccer. Car racing is something that Germans enjoy to do (just drive from Berlin to Munich on Highway 9 on a Sunday evening, that'll show you), but it has become a bit boring since Schumacher wins every single race. The only sad thing about that is that he isn’t driving a Mercedes or a BMW but as long as he wins, the Germans are willing to ignore this fact.
But back to the “most beautiful irrelevant fact”, as it was called some time by someone, let’s go back to soccer. Here, German multiculturalism can be seen in its brightest form. Gone are the times when a player on the field was German because he played in Germany. No, the contemporary soccer field teems with players from all around the world. And nothing is more delightful than watching the news and listening to the journalists struggling to pronounce names like “Imre Szabics”, “Aliaksandr Hleb” or
“Soltan Sebescen” without swallowing their soft pallate.
On the level of international soccer, the German are feared for something they did not really understand until the last world championship: the ability to win every match without actually playing well. As the English national player Gary Lineker put it (something like that), “Soccer is a game with 22 people and in the end the Germans win. ” True enough. Only Brazil didn't understand that but “after the match is before the match.”
Which leads to another aspect of this sport: Soccer and Philosophy. The last sentence in the preceding paragraph is a quote from Sepp Herberger, who was coach of the National Team when Germany won the World Cup of 1954 (now a major motion picture: "Das Wunder von Bern"). This man gave the German language a considerable amount of wise phrases, like “The ball is round and a match lasts 90 minutes” or “The round thing has to go into the square thing.” Can the complicated and elaborate rules of soccer be described in more precise terms? I dare say no. The English language fails to produce similar puns - German soccer players produce them all the time. Sentences like “He pulled the leather past the left goal post”, “Mönchengladbach took the pressure out of the game” or “He conducted the ball in the penalty area” sound strange in English, but are perfectly alright in German. One doesn’t dare to ask how Kant would have written his Critic of Pure Reason, had he been acquainted with soccer.
So, where should the culturally interested tourist in Germany go to? Right, to the stadium, preferably Munich against Stuttgart or Hamburg against Bremen or Schalke against Dortmund (there are usually three or four fatally wounded players afterwards). However, despite the fact that German soccer is international, there are a few rules to be obeyed:
1. “Soccer” is “Fußball” in German. The literary translation of this term is “football” and means exactly
that, not soccer. The North American term “fusball”, meaning the table with the handles etc. is translated as “Tischfußball” and doesn’t count here.
2. Have a look in which part of the stadium you are seated. Normally the staff keeps helpless tourists out of the fan area, but mistakes can be made. So be careful when you cheer, do exactly the same as the person next to you: Drink beer secretly, throw rolls of toilet paper onto the field or explosives into the next fan area and ripp the shirt of one’s back in the second half of the match and wave it.
3. The original language of soccer is either German (swear words) or English (the golden goal) or, funny enough, Mexican (Ole, ole ole ole, wir sind die Champions, ole).
4. Remember to insult the referee at least every five minutes. Surely there is something he or she has done wrong. You can use songs like “Referee, we know where you have parked your car, next time take the bus or the train”.
5. After the match, you either have to sing “We are the champions” or leave the stadium sulking and shaking your fist at singing people, again, depending on what the person next to you is doing.
If you stick to these rules, you should be alright in a German soccer stadium. Surely it is going to be a great cultural experience and a nice way to expand one’s vocabulary. And another step towards a deeper understanding of the German people. However, if things go wrong, you can always rely on another great German achievement, the health care system, which also is worth having a look at.
If you are still interested in German soccer, you might want to have a look at the following links: