The best and worst of the World Cup

The best thing about the World Cup for me was watching it with the young fella sitting on my knee. We watched a couple of games and they were always the exciting ones. I think Brazil v. Chile was one of the highlights of his life – first the Chilean guy hitting the crossbar in the last minute, then the drama of penalties. Jaysus, he loved it!
Every time there’s a goal he’ll celebrate, regardless of which side scores, South American style. “Gooooooooooooooooolllll!! Gol! Gol! Gol!” So he gets pretty excited for penalties.He was very impressed with Messi too. At first he didn’t believe that was his name. “Messy? Messy?!” But after he’d watched a bit of him and heard the commentator call him that too he figured, what the hell, that must be the guy’s name.
Jenny visited one evening and he was telling her how nobody can get the ball off Messi and how he’d scored two goals. “Two goals!” He was incredulous. I guess he’d never heard of anyone scoring two goals before.
Despite his allegiance to Messi he was still sorry for Switzerland when they went out: ”The red ones didn’t get a goal. The poor red ones.”
Yeah, it was great watching the World Cup with him. He said he’ll play in it when he’s bigger.
The worst thing was seeing nationalism raising its ugly head with Germany’s win. The ‘Schland crowds at Brandenburger Tor for the final and again for the trophy presentation (I had to be there for both for work*) were bad enough, though relatively harmless.
But I heard tales of Nazis celebrating with “Sieg Heil!” and giving salutes (on Eberswalder Straße in Prenzlauer Berg). One friend, a Germany fan and football nut, was hassled by Nazis upon leaving his house after the final, presumably because he wasn’t draped in a German flag or tattooed with swastikas.
You could also buy “Endsieg” t-shirts featuring Nazi imagery on Amazon for a short while until they got enough complaints.
Germany mightn’t like to admit it, and I think visitors are blissfully unaware of it, but the country has a far-right problem, one whose advocates are finding football to be a fertile breeding ground.
Most people don’t believe it or simply don’t want to know. They bury their heads in the sand and hope it will go away. Many are already closet Nazis with far-right sympathies. Some write for newspapers – big-selling newspapers too.
I asked the young fella what color he’d be playing in at the World Cup. Imagine my horror when he replied, “White.”
“White?! But what about Ireland? Ireland play in green!”
He corrected himself straight away.**

*I wrote this on my way home but it didn’t make it into my report. Still, I think it provides an accurate description of the celebrations in Berlin.
“Hundreds of fans gathered around the Eberswalder Strasse metro station, blocking the Schoenhauser Allee avenue, drinking, singing raucously, shouting and setting off fireworks at 2 a.m. local time. The ground was littered with broken glass and the strong waft of marijuana could be smelled in the air. Riot police watched closely from nearby but didn’t intervene.
“Other revelers were staggering away in search of the next party.”

**This conversation did happen, but I should point out that of course it’s up to him to do whatever he wants to do. As long as he doesn’t actually become a Nazi I’ll be fine with it.

I’ve no pictures to add to this post yet because I’m away, but I’ll update with pictures of the first football match he went to a couple of weeks before the World Cup – the Berliner Pokalfinale. Another momentous occasion.


  1. The far-right are worrying alright. On the other hand, I have a German friend in his early 60s and he comments frequently on how uncomfortable it makes him feel to see German flags hanging out windows or on cars. Quite a few people born in the years after the war seem to feel that way and I find that kind of sad, too, that they still feel the need to carry that burden somehow.

    1. It makes me uncomfortable too, and not because of anything that happened 60 or 70 years ago, but because of shit going on now. You're right though, it's sad.


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