Saturday, June 21, 2008


It's really something, living in a city during a significant and popular sports tournament. Theoretically, I experienced a situation like this two years ago, during the World Cup, but I don't remember much of it (owing to a sievey memory), and I find the widespread interest and excitement surrounding the Euro Cup really striking and novel. I certainly never experienced anything like this in Canada.

The popularity of the tournament can be witnessed everywhere: At the elementary school where I work part-time, posters have been hung up, on which students and teachers can keep track of scores, points, and matches. The tournament is a topic of discussion among the children, among my co-workers, among fellow attendants of German courses, among members of my family, and of course on television. Crowds gather at bars and in front of large outdoor TV screens to watch matches. All over the city, flags have been hung from apartment windows.

The fans' loyalties, as represented by the flags, are diverse, which is to be expected from a big city like Berlin. There is, of course, a lot of support for Germany here, but there is also a respectable amount for various other countries -- especially Turkey. In fact, on the way to work, although I certainly see plenty of German flags, along with flags from Russia, Italy, Croatia, and so on, the (vast) majority are Turkish.

Since Germany and Turkey are the most widely supported here, the most excitement occurs after one or the other of the two wins a match. Today, for example, there was a match between Turkey and Croatia. It ended just a little while ago, presumably in a win for Turkey. Since then, countless cars, generally with Turkish flags, have been driving up and down the street, honking as they go. Firecrackers are being set off on street corners, cheering and whistling can be heard from all directions, people -- whether alone or in jubilant groups -- are wandering the streets, some with large flags draped over their shoulders, etc., etc.

On the whole, as little as I care for soccer, the delight and excitement expressed by the many soccer fans here is infectious and exhilarating. I don't even mind that the noisy celebrations generally last well into the wee hours. Indeed, I think my only complaint concerns the lame and annoying "Deutschlaaand, Deutschlaaaaand" chant.


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