Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
On a World Cup morning after the reporting of England fans being involved in trouble
, and on the morning before the next World Cup game involving England, I think it is time to write a little on my experience of Germany 2006.
And the theme is; Fan Freundschaft!
Which translated means; fan friendship.
I spent a week travelling across Germany with a couple of friends; a trip centred on the Brazil v. Australia match in Munich. This journey was a perfect antidote to the miserable antagonism that accompanies so much football. The bright sunshine on seas of yellow shirted fans provided the perfect lighting for a football party, with Brazilians mixing with Americans mixing with Italians mixing with Dutch mixing with Australians. Oh, and one Ghanaian-Zimbabwean-American who, alone, converted a whole Bier Garten of mixed nationalities, a big Bier Garten at that, into a united Ghanaians crowd, at least for the duration of a famous victory over the Czechs. And perhaps for the rest of Ghana’s World Cup run. Ghana! Ghana! Ghana! It might have been Dutchmen who carried the Ghanaian around the Munich square for a shoulder-high lap of cheer around the Munich square. Perhaps his bearers were Australian, or even a couple of elusive Germans. In Munich there were surprisingly few German fans, in what seemed to have become an international city of football.
Later that night we were outraged in sympathy with the Americans. Their team had an upset of similar proportions as the one achieved by Ghana stolen from them by a referee with a keen sense of balance, who evened up the game to ensure that the Italians were not disadvantaged for their violent play or their relative lack of drive. Shouting “Fix!” at a television screen might have been fuelled by Augustiner, and might have been a little aggressive, but where else but in an atmosphere of fan friendship would have I have been found cheering on a team from the United States? I even nearly began to chant U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A. Nearly.
All this football, all the beer, all those schnitzels, all that wurst and all this Freundschaft did not come cheap. Sleeping in a tent, we paid with our health. A six o’clock return to a tent affords little sleep when the sun bakes you out of your polyfibre dome by nine. But the campsite itself was a centre of Fan Freundschaft, with tents pitched on neighbouring plots housing fans of nations in and outside of the World Cup.
The night of the Brazil-Australia game the streets were packed with fans from all nations. And Steve McManaman. Having been out all day, spending the time between matches with a kickabout in the Englischer Garten we were carrying a cheap football. Once one person had asked to borrow it to demonstrate their keepy-uppy skills there was no way that the ball would see Ramsgate again. Inside half an hour the street had become a thousand person game of keepy-uppy. The police smiled as they looked on and the policeman who caught the ball to a chorus of boos received the biggest cheers of the night when he used the ball to demonstrate his own keepy-uppy skills before giving the ball back to the crowd.
The World Cup slogan is A Time To Make Friends
. And from what I saw this principle is being put into action with well-organised enthusiasm. Forget the news, feeding you an unrepresentative picture of the events and atmosphere of Germany 2006. Fan Freundschaft!