On Saturday night I had the rather unique experience, for this ignorant American anyway, of taking in the Germany vs. Portugal match in the first round of the European championship… It was… interesting.
To be honest, and this might sting to some of my German readers, I didn’t much care for it. I called up one of my German friends, and met up with him at a hookah (shisha) bar in Grevenbroich, about 20 minutes from where I’m staying. I thought we’d be watching the game there… I was wrong. We headed to a concert venue that used to be a fire station in town to join 300 or so people for what the crazy Germans call a ‘public viewing.’ Turns out that’s a euphemism for excessive public drunkenness (and coming from me that’s saying something), shitty German-flag themed costumes, and a rather nauseating sense of national pride….
I suppose that’s an overly polite way of putting it. The pro-German shit didn’t bother me in the slightest. The anti-Portugal stuff was borderline scary.
My American readers, and more specifically those of you from Colorado, know what it’s like when the Broncos play the Raiders. I’d be lying if I said that the words “fuck the Raiders” never crossed my lips. They have, more times than I can count. But, and it’s a big but, that was directed at the opposing team. Not a people. I never said “fuck Oakland and everyone from there. I’m gonna beat the shit out of somebody from Oakland if we lose this game.”
The amount of anti-Portuguese hate speech I heard this evening was pretty incredible. Now my German is limited. Extremely limited. Ok, it’s non-existent, so I guess ‘heard’ isn’t so appropriate. But this sentiment was not encumbered by language in any way. Witnessing it was plenty. Truly legitimate anger isn’t too hard to pick up on…
In my own ignorance, I thought all the middle fingers and the ‘Fuck the Portuguese’ chants meant fuck the team. And then my buddy told me a story that sort of opened my eyes a bit. He told me that when Germany lost a controversial game to Serbia in the 2010 World Cup, he and a group of his friends “drove to the city,” batons in hand, looking for any Serbians they could find. And I sincerely doubt they were looking to drink a beer to the spirit of sportsmanship. He assured me that they didn’t find any innocent Serbs to assault, so they retired to a pub and drank instead, but it was still enough to make me a little sick.
Their hateful sentiments extended far beyond a healthy distaste for Ronaldo, with which I’d have no problem at all, and with my… distaste for Kobe Bryant, even less room to complain. But this encompassed the entire people. Every last person from Portugal would have been responsible for a personal affront on their German pride. Had they won. But they didn’t. So ze Germans drank and sang in celebration…
But, it was an experience anyway, I suppose. And it was pretty funny to hear someone say “your mother is a son of a bitch,” so there’s that… Anyway here’s some shitty cell phone pictures and a couple of shitty cell phone videos….
Now this next little clip I took about 30 seconds after Germany scored the only goal of the match. I was outside with Ms. Müller when it went down, she’s not to into this whole scene either… Sort of wish I’d seen the goal though. The place went crazy.
And that’s a wrap for this evening. I need beer. And sleep. In that order.