Saturday, 26 June 2010

An England Supporter in Germany? Surely Not!

As England managed to scrape through the group stages to reach the final 16, and the first round of the knockout stages of the World Cup, we now have to play our old sporting rivals, Germany, on Sunday. This, of course, has been reported in the British press with all the usual xenophopic vitriol we have all come to admire from the tabloids. However, I've noticed, living in Germany as I do, that even the equivalent rags such as the Bild are slightly milder in their take on the upcoming match (although I did enjoy Bild's article 'Our 11 Young Men against the English Hooligans', which compares each German player to their English counterpart, listing off the various granny-shagging, cheating, and recent divorcing of each England player, and how the German players are all perfectly moral, upstanding citizens).

The Germans, on the whole, refer to a match against England as 'der Klassiker', or 'The Classic' because of our sporting history, rather than our political history. This seems more reasonable than the front page of the Daily Star, which proclaimed 'Job Done, Now For The Hun' in it's own typically disgusting manner, trying to cash in on something that the people of Germany have done their very best to put behind them. The hate of these newspapers has translated, as we all know, into hooliganism and problems for real football fans abroad and at home. Who could forget the thugs who murdered a (non-football supporting) Russian student in Brigton after England crashed out of Euro '96 because they thought that he had a German accent? Or the fact that even this week, I have heard reports circulating among my German friends that they 'wouldn't feel safe' going into the English pubs in their cities on Sunday, regardless of who wins the match. Frankly, I'm disgusted by the way that the very small minority of thugs who call themselves fans have ruined the enjoyment of international sport for so many. No one person I know in Heidelberg would ever hold a personal grudge against a German person if England lose, let alone even think of causing any violence.

That being said, I am looking forward to Sunday's match, because I think that there will be a great atmosphere in the town, especialy with all the public viewings available. There is a sizeable English/British population in Heidelberg, so I think that there is the chance to have some fun and some harmless banter and mess around with the German fans. I'm sure that if Germany win us Brits will be ribbed endlessly, especially as we are so outnumbered. The atmosphere in Germany would be electric, and wonderful to experience if they manage to progress to the very late rounds, even at the expense of England. Yet...if we manage to pull off a win, then it would be incredible, and there would then be the chance for the British contingent to tease our German friends while restoring our pride after the hit-and-miss tension of the group stages.

I cannot wait to experience a football match between England and Germany where neither team is portrayed as the 'baddie', and where the history of Germany is not used to try and instill feelings of being on the moral highground, when actually, using the awful events around WWII to create this feeling puts the British press at a far lower place than the German nation in modern times. I hope that England win this weekend because I am from England, and they are the team that it would make me the happiest to see win the tournament. This does not, however, mean that if England do fail to progress, I won't be out with everyone else, cheering on the 'Schland and making the most of my last few weeks here in Germany.

C xx

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