World Cup Diary : German lesson in how to watch football

One of the 'whacky' football caravans at the Goethe Institute

One of the 'whacky' football caravans at the Goethe Institute

The Germans have given quite a few teams in this World Cup something of a lesson in the art of playing the beautiful game, but I’ve always considered them not exactly famous for letting their hair down.
Well after a visit to the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg I learnt that not only do the Germans lead the way in football, beer, bratwurst and Alsatians but also how to watch football.

The Goethe institute is a fairly modern looking building on Jan Smuts Ave, which is home to a German exhibition not to mention restaurant and screening room. Outside in what would be a car park the staff have filled it with sand and caravans- as you do- to create a makeshift beach of sorts, complete with stage for performers and a barbecue. To be fair though the Germans have let themselves down by not transporting a few thousand gallons of seawater to give us an ocean-type view, but we can’t be too harsh on them.

The caravans each have a television and are decorated in various football-style ‘whacky’ ways. There’s also a stage outside on the ‘beach’ where live bands perform- it’s pretty amazing just how seriously the Germans take having fun.

I watched the Holland Brazil game, there with a friend in one of the caravans and had a cracking time, so we decided to return as soon as possible.

In the true spirit of being English a few of the lads I’m here with and I decided to watch the Spain Germany game..and get behind the Spanish.

Due to the fact it was yet another pesky German semi-final the place was packed with everyone but the four of us getting behind the Fatherland.
The caravans were all full, so we decided to watch the game in the auditorium which was also packed. Funnily enough the few empty seats actually had towels on them- I kid you not!
The big stage in front of the large screen was actually empty so we made our way to it, and plotted up. Soon afterwards everyone who’d been standing at the back came and joined us on stage and it was soon full-it took us Brits to show them how its done.

The game itself wasn’t the best semi-final I’ve ever seen but I thought some of Spain’s passing particularly in the second half was exquisite. There was also the added bonus of a pitch invader- who it later transpired, managed to get past stewards by sitting in a wheelchair in the disabled section, then suddenly jumping up and running -catching everyone by surprise.

The crowd at the institute was strangely subdued- even before Spain’s winner- there wasn’t much chanting or singing and even the vuvuzela blowing was minimal.

When Spain scored we were naturally elated and couldn’t help but cheer- which was drowned out by German shouting- probably for the best.
Unlike most games I’ve watched on television here- which have been on the SuperSports channel- this one was being shown on the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
The commentator for this game was so shockingly bad he was almost good, producing such gems as :” He’s not the one of the best goalkeepers in the world by not being a good keeper.” Not to mention “One of those moments you would never ask a player to do.”
Despite the rubbish commentary, the evening was very enjoyable- mainly thanks to Spain’s victory – which earned me 200 rand after a bet with a friend.

After the final whistle we went outside to the makeshift beach to chat and debate whether Spain were gonna beat the Netherlands.
With a lot of -white-South Africans being descended from the Dutch I expect most of the country will be behind the men in Orange.
Before I arrived here- in a stopover at Kenyan Airport a few of us discussed who we thought would win and strangely all picked Holland as our favourites- I say strange cos the rest of our predictions during this world cup have been shocking- hence wasting money to watch an England side we were confident would beat Germany!

Whether that could tip the balance in Holland’s favour is anyone’s guess but I sincerely hope this finals remembered for the football rather than strange chest- headbutting!

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