Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"It's got nuffin' to do with your Vorsprung durch Technik, y'know..."

This World Cup is "a time to make friends", according to the tournament's sentimental slogan.
It also appears to be a time to dispel a few German stereotypes - including that old image of ruthless efficiency.
Not that this has been a badly-run World Cup, judging by the first wunderbar week. Yet a few backstage niggles and amateurish asides have caused surprise - without threatening to become a time to make enemies.
On the ladder of public affection, journalists hang a few rungs lower than politicians, estate agents and armed robbers.
But a little sympathy seems due to those wrongly named and shamed by Fifa for failing to take up their England-Paraguay tickets.
Some 250 were given "yellow card" warnings which could rule them out of future allocations.
Yet most of those British hacks on the hitlist were at the game, and had taken up their tickets - though probably wished they hadn't, long before the final whistle.
If Fifa really wanted to punish people who were expected to show up but didn't, perhaps they should have started with Michael Owen and Ashley Cole.
The England games have seen the most chaos in and around the always-spectacular stadia.
But haphazard public transport arrangements brought the surreal sight of furious Swiss queuing up to harangue German officials in Stuttgart, late into the night.
Utterly unhelpful directions also sent hordes of Australians and Japanese the wrong way through Kaiserslautern, before even starting the mountainous climb to the stadium.
No wonder there were a few raised eyebrows when the stadium announcer proudly revealed the match had "sold out", as the banks of empty seats suggested a different story.
Still, once inside, the views are immense and the atmosphere enthralling.
Even the chuckling announcers can be endearing, despite making Motty sound dynamic.
The mascot Goleo may wear a costume seemingly raided from an infant school's dressing-up box.
But Germany is joyous, from the streets ribboned in colours to the stadia mocking those old promises of a Wembley World Cup this summer instead.
Oh, and there's also the little matter of some exciting, attacking football from the world's finest players. And Togo's.
Somehow it feels all the more charming, to also discover even Germany has a few people you couldn't trust to organise a beer festival in Bavaria.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favourite quotes so far, heard during the Germany vs. Poland match:

"...Ballack's hit the bar!"
"...Ballack's offside"

'ouch' and 'quite'