I’ve never been a fan of futball. Football, on the other hand, is a different story (I love my Ducks, and I’m still smelling roses).
The low-scoring, low-contact game of soccer just hasn’t ever quite sucked me in like an action-packed game at Autzen can. But being in Europe for the World Cup has transformed me into a futball fan.
It’s a big transition from the world of 300-pounders and 50-yard touchdown passes to goals scored by headers and games that have a strong possibility of ending in a tie. But there is something special about this game that Americans don’t have in all of our pro-sports leagues: patriotic spirit. This is country on country here, not just franchise on franchise. These teams are fighting for bragging rights and prestige for four years, and they do so draped in the colors of their home. That’s some serious pressure.
The world cup in Europe is like The Olympics on crack. There’s deep-seeded country rivalries, and fans who watch their country’s players compete from the club level all the way up to the country’s elite squad.
In Germany, there were faces painted with the German flag days leading up to a game. There were huge big screens set up in the middle of every town so that everyone could cheer on their country together. And there were parties…lots of parties. We’re talking a massive party in the streets when Germany beat Argentina.
A man literally wheeled a keg up to the dancing crowd of ecstatic futball fans and starting giving away beer. Lines of cars drove by with people hanging out of the windows and sunroofs draped in German flags and cheering to anyone that would listen. It felt like how the city of Portland would react if they won the NBA Championship, except the Germans didn’t need to win a championship for its fans to go crazy. This was just the quarter-finals.
But their exciting run for the World Cup championship is over after a loss to the team that won it all, Spain. Sure, the fans were disappointed and the drunken Deutschland cheers are slightly muffled. But they make it clear that they are still proud of their team and of their nation, no championship necessary.
Looking back, it may be a good thing that Germany lost to Spain. Otherwise, these fans could have done some serious damage. It’s all fun and games until someone burns down a castle.