While I’m not typically one for sports, televised or otherwise, I can’t help but get into the World Cup here.

I first saw the magnificent spectacle that is International football (soccer for you Americans) championships two years ago, during the UEFA European Football Championship.  When I wrote about that series, I had just seen a Holland match while in Holland, and the Orange was everywhere.

I also noticed then, as now, that the Championships are the one time that you really see German patriotism.  Championships are the time that German flags go onto people’s cars and get displayed on houses.  From what my German friends tell me, this only started around the 2006 championships- before that it was almost unheard of to have this level of patriotism in Germany, ever since that whole World War II incident back in the 1940s.

I’ve been really enjoying the games this year; especially this week’s massive 7-1 victory over Brazil’s team.

If you didn’t see the Brazil-Germany match, this animation pretty much sums up the game.

With that victory, Germany is going to the final match of the World Cup.  On Sunday night, they’ll be playing Argentina for the whole enchilada.  I was really hoping it would be the Netherlands…

I’m pretty stoked about the whole thing, and so are my countrymen-  after Germany’s last victory, the Empire State Building in New York City  looked like this:


Have you been watching the World Cup?  Who do you root for?

Competitive Europeans, Part 2

After seeing how much the locals get into the Eurovision song competition, I thought I understood how the locals responded to competition. That was before the UEFA European Football Championship started.

UEFA, or the Union of European Football Associations, is an organization that coordinates the national football associations throughout Europe. Much like Eurovision, UEFA was founded in Switzerland in the 1950s.

A brief digression to translate for my American friends: Whenever I say football in this blog, I’m talking about the game that Americans know as soccer. If I’m talking about the big crashy game with the helmets and the pigskin, I’ll refer to that as “American Football,” or “Big Guys Running Into Each Other Really Fast In Between Beer Commercials.”   Here’s John Cleese to explain the differences further:

Just before Euro 2012 started, people began to decorate their cars, and in some cases, their homes with national colors.  Here’s two examples in Germany to give you a sense of this.   Even the lei hanging from the rear-view mirror is in German colors.

When your team wins, the celebrations are boisterous and jubilant.  Germany won their match the other night, and there was honking horns and celebrations for hours afterward throughout the city, much of it audible from my apartment.

The opening rounds of Euro 2012 started when I was in Amsterdam a few weekends ago. I was in Holland when their team was playing, and I was not prepared for just how invested people are into their national teams.    The Dutch fans went all out.   Buildings were decked out in the team colors, and some had giant inflatable balls:

People wore amazingly orange costumes throughout the city-  I saw full orange business suits, orange wigs, orange cowboy hats, orange wooden-clog-shaped shoes, and more.  I’m not even sure what to call this outfit:

The team spirit is so inclusive that even the furry folk get dressed up in their team colors:

Unfortunately for the Dutch fans, Holland has not done well this year.  I think that’s why this pup looks so sad!

We’re in the quarter-finals now, with Germany facing Greece tonight.  If Germany makes it into the semi-finals, then they’ll be playing either England or Italy next.  I’m hopeful they’ll make it into the finals, but all the remaining teams are very good so it should be an entertaining next few days.

As a temporary German, I feel obligated to show team spirit by wearing their colors on my lanyard at work.