Germany vs. Turkey

WiseMan and his soccer buddy took me to the soccer game Germany vs. Turkey last night in the Olympia Stadium in Berlin. The game had been preceded by a lot of hype, since Berlin is the second largest Turkish city, making this an "away" game for the German team, even though it was played in Germany.

The 75 000 tickets were sold out within minutes of the open selling, but WiseMan had luckily joined the DFB Fan Club in order to get tickets to the Women's World Cup. They are able to buy tickets a day before the general sales, and he managed to get 4 tickets. Poor WiseKid was at boot camp, but we had no trouble finding someone to come along.

The tickets warn: Singing section. That means that you are in with the Fans with a capital F. The game didn't start until 8.45 pm, but experienced soccer fans warned that early arrival was imperative. So we met at Bahnhof Zoo at 6.30, the trains were already packed with Turkish and German fans.

On the way out we were talking about the Tagesspiegel article on being German. I explained to the guest that I felt the same way, our guest expressed surprise. A young man standing next to us chimed in "Exactly! Even if my parents are from Turkey, I'm German! But they never let me belong." I explained my theory that for many these days, nationality is the same as loyalty to a sports club. For some: lifelong. For others: it can change. For a few: dual loyalty, and then when the clubs play each other, like THW Kiel and the Berlin Füchse a few weeks ago, these people are torn, but they survive!

The logistics of getting people into the stadium was well thought out, and we made it in with plenty of time before the game. The fan curve had presents laid out - we all got a white T-Shirt we were to wear, and we had paper sheets that we were to hold up when the teams take the field. Later on TV we saw that we spelled "Heimspiel", home game.

The Olympic Stadium is breath-takingly beautiful. The clean lines, the new roof over the seating, and the opening out towards the bell tower create quite a nice atmosphere, especially with all the seats taken. There was a bit uneasiness when some Turkish fans lighted some flares, and when some of the paper bits in our part caught fire on a tossed cigarette butt.

It is possible to see the players, even identify some of them. The Turkish fans were booing every time Mesut Özil, a German player from Gelsenkirchen with Turkish grandparents, touched the ball, although he had put on red shoes for the occasion. The German fans reacted by chanting his name, and he thanked them for that with a goal.

The male-female ratio in the fan area was similar to a computer science conference: there were a few other women there, but it was mostly a guy's thing. The fans did a lot of silly singing and waving of arms when the Germans had a corner kick. There were a couple of idiots who were singing "Deutschland über alles" instead of "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" during the national anthem, but it was all quite peaceful.

The Germans won 3:0, and the way home was quiet and subdued. The Turks were sad and the Germans wisely avoided provoking them. A lot of cops stood by to encourage people to shut up if they got a little frisky at the train stations.

It was an interesting experience, but I think I prefer to watch at home. There's instant replay, so that I can be doing something on the computer and just have to look up when something interesting is happening. There's no cigarette smoking at home. We have beer with alcohol in it, and an ice-cool schnapps for after the game. And you don't have to leave home 3 hours before the game, and come home in a train packed like a can of sardines!

Although we do have tickets for the Women's World Cup, so there is more coming....

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