Friday, June 30, 2006

"Hesitating to become the fated ones..."

Berlin today stages its biggest sporting event since a rather controversial little Olympics in 1936.
When Germany and Argentina take the field this evening, the 2006 World Cup will have gone a whole 66 hours with a ball kicked in anger.
Or in England´s case, languor.
And Berlin can be entitled to feel more impatient than most.
A vast Coca-Cola poster, replicated across the Berlin skyline, proclaims: ´1954 Bern, 1974 M√ľnchen, 1990 Rom, 2006 Hier´.
That 1974 German triumph was achieved with only three run-of-the-mill group games in then-West Berlin.
And when the 1988 European Championships came to German, pre-unification Berlin was missed out entirely.
No wonder an estimated 65,000 people took to the streets of Berlin celebrating last Saturday´s victory over Sweden in Munich.
Yet the last two days have seemed strangely subdued in the capital - the calm before the ´Sturm-und-Drang´, perhaps.
The bulbous, Eiffel-outsoaring TV Tower, so long an odd symbol of East Berlin, has been given a pink lick of paint to resemble a giant football - owned by Barbie.
Here and there you can spot a straggle of early-arriving Argentinians, even-earlier-arriving Britons or Brazilians.
Or a stray hazy Aussie, who can´t quite bring himself to follow his team home yet.
But the big screen and the ´fan fest' at the Brandeburg Gate look a little lonely, dominated by paid and voluntary staff filling in time.
Even the omnipresent mobile beer stalls haven´t all bothered to open all hours yet.
Today they will, though.
The second round - indeed, the whole tournament since the second set of first-round matches - may have been a case of ´never mind the quality, feel the quantity´.
But now the business end of the World Cup will finally hear from Berlin its Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome - and hopefully live up to those premature boasts of ´best tournament ever´.
These past two days have felt like two too many.

1 comment:

lilwatchergirl said...

Just thought I'd let you know I am still reading - it's just that, not being the world's biggest sports fan, there's not much for me to comment on. It's nice, though, that people are keeping an eye on our boys...

Well, OK, hundreds of thousands of people are...

You know what I mean.