Happy Independence Day to us Americans. I hope that cannot remotely be of annoyance to the English who visit.
I remember wanting to do some sort of celebration with my mostly non-American friends when the Fourth of July arrived during my year at the University of Wuppertal, especially as the USA soccer team had drawn Brazil in the first round of the knockout stages of the World Cup being played in my home country on our national birthday.
Among my friends was a Mancunian named Simon. He possessed an accent that was difficult for me when he was bone sober, which was primarily in the mornings and early afternoons. By the time we’d all had a few beers, I could no more make out his words than I could those of some of the drunken Bavarians I met when I stood among them for FC Bayern’s 1994 visit to SG Wattenscheid.
When I raised the idea to a few of my friends, Simon asked, “What’ll you do? Like a weenie roast?”
“Weenie roast” pretty much ended the discussion because Simon then fell into a laughing fit that led me to believe the phrase “weenie roast” was the single funniest thing he’d ever heard and he’d finally fulfilled a life-long ambition of working “weenie roast” into a conversation with a real-live American.
Probably funnier was how defensive I felt myself wanting to be. I think I even tried to say we don’t really do “weenie roast” by name, but it was all for naught. Me and my American-ness was the funny bit and there was no getting around it. Were it not for the perspective gained though the time I spent in Germany among people from such a wide spectrum of cultures, I probably would have stewed a while and resented the incident.
When the Fourth arrived, I dressed for the occasion in a red, white, and blue American flag rugby shirt the type of which I’d never have imagined myself wearing prior to spending time in a foreign country. Something about living overseas made me a lot more patriotic in many ways while, at the same time, making the concept of patriotism, at least the way it’s executed by some, seem completely obtuse and ignorant.
The US, as expected, lost to Brazil. Considering I had barely considered soccer a “real sport” just months prior, I was not horribly crushed by the result. Unrelated to American independence, a party was held later that night in the student residence hall adjacent to the one in which I was living. I continued to wear my flag shirt, rather enjoying the good-natured chucking it inspired among all the people I’d gotten to know over the prior ten months and those who were just aware of the big American guy in the room.
At some point at least a few beers into the night, a guy I did not know at all approached me. I can only say he spoke with a heavy accent I assumed to be of middle-eastern origin, but have no idea otherwise where he might have been from. I don’t even recall whether he spoke to me in English or German, but speak to me he did.
“I’m glad your country lost today.”
I was a bit stunned for a moment. It was not really the first time I’d encountered anti-Americanism since landing in Europe, but it was the first time I’d had such sentiment addressed directly to me. I’m a tall, broad-shouldered guy whose affability is often masked with a resting demeanor that (I have been told) can scream “don’t even THINK about approaching me.” This likely shields me from a lot of society’s minor rudeness, to be honest.
Not even just relatively, this fellow was not really a big guy, so, in retrospect, I have to tip my hat to the guy for being compelled to approach to speak his mind, despite the fact he was approaching someone nearly twice his size who clearly was drinking beer for at least some segment of the day to tell him something intended to be at least a little antagonistic.
Quickly, I processed what was happening and alighted briefly on, “Hey man, fuck you,” before the absurdity of the situation chased any jingoistic retort back into the beery haze.
Okay, I may have slipped a quick, “Oh yeah, well, how is YOUR country’s team doing?” into the air between us before I realized the senselessness of engaging someone who doesn’t know anything more about me than the shirt I was wearing and making a lot of assumptions from there.
Why am I forcing you to wade through all this before getting to the daily update? I’ve no idea. Seemed like there was a point to it, but then….beer!
And now, the day’s stories…auf Englisch:
- Sharing a birthday with my home country is FC Köln’s stadium announcer, Michael Trippel. Happy 59th birthday! Let’s celebrate his 60th en route to a season in the first league, oder?
- Not too long after I posted yesterday’s news, Bild.de posted a report headlined, “All Clear! Ujah will be a Kölner,” triggering celebrations among Effzeh fans who’d been hoping to see 1. FC Köln strike a deal to bring Anthony Ujah to the club on a permanent basis from FSV Mainz, who loaned the Nigerian striker to the Billy Goats last season. Others, however remained cautious, noting that Bild is not the most-trustworthy news resource available.Reading the story more closely, you can definitely see reason for skepticism. While Alexander Wehrle was quoted as saying the dialogue between the two clubs was good, the author of the story added that Wehrle’s “grin revealed more.” So, essentially, no deal was yet in place, but because Wehrle had a certain look on his face, it’s merely a “formality” at this point? Journalism at its finest!
Of course, just because they were speculating, does not mean they had it wrong. Speaking to the press on Thursday afternoon, vice-president Toni Schumacher announced the deal will be finalized once Ujah signs a deal, with Köln and Mainz agreeing to an exchange that will allow the Billy Goats to pay the reported 2-million Euro transfer fee in installments.
As for Mainz, manager Christian Heidl said, essentially, there is no deal.
So, as we began…trust Bild at your own risk..
- Adam Matuschyk returned to training Thursday after taking time away to nurse a muscle strain. Matuschyk remains the only person I know successfully wearing a soul patch.
- The official Twitter account for 1. FC Köln eclipsed the 50,000-follower mark, prompting a thank you in the form of this photo:
- Shout-out to my boy @Dornenboy for tipping me off to the difference between RheinEnergieStadion and Müngersdorfer Stadion. Turns out they’re the same place, with the former simply being a temporary name granted via corporate sponsorship. While I am glad for whatever money filters into the player budget from the naming rights, I do not feel at all beholden to those sponsors. Hence, I’ll be referring to the home ground by its proper name from here on out (unless I forget, in which case feel free to correct me!). If RheinEnergie wishes to sponsor my site, then I’ll let y’all know how I’ll handle that!
- Dates and times for match days 3-7 were announced Thursday.Following the DFB match in Trier, the Effzeh will play three consecutive Saturday afternoon matches (at Paderborn, vs. Sandhausen, and at Greuther Fürth) before a Sunday afternoon visit from FC Erzgebirge Aue and a Monday night trip to Energie Cottbus. There is a two-week break between the Aue and Cottbus matches to accommodate an international break for World Cup qualification.
- And to finish, another shout-out to Flosetsfire who stumbled onto a little piece of ugliness on a Fortuna Düsseldorf Facebook page and called out the ignorace on Twitter with a “#fuckhomophobia,” which I fully endorse.
On the left, you see the shirt they’ll be selling outside Müngersdorfer Stadion for 5 Euro each featuring a billy goat above the word “Opfer” (victims) in a rip-off of Shepard Fairey’s “Obey” viral marketing/art mash-up. On the right, you have a little homophobia-tinged attempt at insulting Köln fans.
First, a fan rule for me is that I don’t put the name, logo, or any other identifying item of my rival team on anything I wear, even to take a shot at them. I lived in Denver, Colorado during the heyday of the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry and used to laugh at Colorado fans wearing t-shirts with such witticisms as “Fuck the Red Wings” with the winged wheel right in the middle of their chest. When the idiot boxes finally were curious enough as to why I was laughing, I’d explain how Red Wings fans wouldn’t be caught dead with their ugly-ass logo on their person. Always stunned them for at least a moment before they scrambled for a defense. So, y’all want to wear Hennes on your chest when you come to visit? I say, “cool!”
Second, homophobic slurs? Really? Is that somehow not beneath even you? Not much else to say about that other than that the knuckle-dragging element of sports support is being rapidly marginalized. Look around and get with the times.
Oh, and, it would seem you could check your “About” section, where you claim your page “will not tolerate discrimination..or insults,” with the threat of immediate banishment of “anyone who does not comply.” I won’t hold my breath waiting for your page to disappear, nor for a deserved apology toward the gay communities in both Köln and Düsseldorf.
Another day in the books. Apologies if it’s disjointed. As it’s the Fourth of July, I spend the day grilling, drinking beer, and calming my three-year-old son who is terrified of fireworks. But, it’s done!
Don’t forget, live chat at Peter Stöger’s Facebook page at 1 p.m. Germany time (whatever they call that), which is 4 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, meaning you won’t be seeing me there.
Happy Fourth, y’all!