Not trying to be toooo harsh, I welcome the decline of USA supremacy as well! at least we can say our most offensive media jingoism originates from the same sewer!
Nationalistic, soccer-related Stimmung in Berlin is serious right now. The World Cup here 4 years ago was seen as the breaking of a certain flag-taboo: whereas before it was questionable and mildly-shocking to wave a German flag at any time, during the World Cup everyone and their mother gladly smeared the black-red-yellow on their cheeks and hung huge flags from their balconies. It was undoubtedly a case of athletic sublimation of nationalistic/militaristic sentiment. The German flag now symbolizes die Mannschaft more than it does the country.
In my neighborhood of Neukölln, a largely immigrant community, flags are a-flying more so than in most other areas. My friend told me that, when Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon are not taking part in a football competition, the Arabic immigrants support the German national team more than many Teutonic Germans.
My friend and I overheard a funny story last night while waiting for our halloumi sandwiches at a Lebanese sandwich shop. The Arabic proprietors of the building next door were lowering a gigantic German flag from the roof, which stretched 4 stories down to just above street level. The man who seemed to be the owner of the flag said that someone tore the flag down a few days ago. He didn’t know who or why. My friend assumed it was some anti-fascist, left-wing Germans (many of whom also live in Neukölln), to whom the sight of a monstrously large German flag would be poisonous. The man said that now he has arranged security, who would guard the flag throughout the night. Such patriotic sentiment would be rare to find in most citizens of German-descent.
There’s a great piece in the Guardian by David Hytner about the new, young, “multi-kulti” German football generation who have impressed the world in their drubbing of Australia last week:
“We are aware that it’s something new to have German national players with Turkish, Ghanaian, Nigerian or Tunisian roots but for our generation, it’s very normal,” said Khedira, who is the DFB’s poster boy for the liberation generation. “We have some players called Khedira and some called Müller. We don’t know any differently.”
There remains a section of Germany’s support that struggles to come to terms with the multiculturalism, traditionalists who complain about some of the players not singing the national anthem. Ozil murmurs verses from the Koran when it plays. But Aogo says “people shouldn’t attach too much importance” to this. “I don’t sing the national anthem and I am still proud to play for Germany.”
Over and above the socio-political benefits, there are also those of a footballing nature. “Up front, we exude a bit of Latin or southern ease but defensively, we are incredibly disciplined, very German,” said Khedira. Ozil noted that “my technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game and the always-give-your-all attitude is the German part” while Aogo said that “the mixture of African physical strength and European tactical awareness can be very good for the DFB”.
That last part is a bit funny. It seems that if nationalism, in a nu-politically-correct world, is given new life through football, then the same happens with cheap cultural stereotypes?
It’s kind of an anti-Africa movement; this is not right. There is still in the so called ‘old world’ a feeling that ‘why the hell should South Africa organise a World Cup.’ Why the hell? It was easier for them to go down to Africa, the colonialists in the past hundred years, to take out all the best, and now to take out all the best footballers. And when you have to give something back they don’t want to go. What’s that? It is a lack of respect, a lack of respect for the whole of Africa.
It’s official CRUNCHTIME for Group B here at Bolas & Bandieras. Unfortunately I am currently on the Megabus from Philadelphia to New York, and I don’t think the WIFI here is strong enough to support a live video stream.
Luckily, we can all follow along with Gregg Roughley at the Guardian as he updates us as to the proceedings in the BIG MATCH between the Ghana Black Stars and the mighty Burkina Faso Stallions. It’s currently scoreless after 22 minutes.
Daouda Diakité did a handy job in goal against Côte d’Ivoire last week, and he’ll be hoping to keep this game scoreless, as the Burkinabe team will go through to the quarterfinals without scoring or conceding a goal if this game ends 0-0.
Ghana’s best player, Michael Essien, is out with a hamstring strain, or something. Whatever it is, it’s a blow for Ghana, although Chelsea managed to score 7 goals over the weekend without Essien.
Ghana have also flown in a pitch-expert (Frank Boahene from Green Grass Technology) to advise the Black Stars as to boot selection, and how best to physically prepare for playing on the cruddy Angolan pitches.
HALF-TIME, GHANA 1-0 BURKINA FASO
Ghana midfielder Dede Ayew scores a header (which I have not seen, but was sure to have been CRACKING) from a looping Mathew Amoah cross. The marking was apparently poor, and thanks to it, Ghana have one foot in the quarter-finals. Apparently Jonathan Pitroipa has been getting lively down the right wing for Burkina Faso. 45 minutes to go!
In other world soccer news, USMNT winger Clint Dempsey is awaiting prognosis after picking up a bad injury in the game against Blackburn Rovers. There are fears that he could be out for the rest of the season, missing out on South Africa as well.
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane denies any funny business going on during the dull 0-0 draw between Angola and Algeria which saw both teams go through to the quarterfinals.
Angolan special forces (‘dubbed “Ninjas” for their all-black uniform’) have arrested three prominent human-rights activists in relation to the FLEC shootings. All three had formerly been members of Mpalabanda, “the only human rights organization in Cabinda” (which was apparently disbanded by the Angolan government in 2006 b/c of alleged political involvement).
FULL TIME: GHANA GO THROUGH!
The match finishes without any further goals, Ghana going through in fairly unconvincing fashion. That’s tough on the Burkinabes, but they must be at least heartened by their fairly solid performance. Who knows how the group would have looked if Togo had been there to mix it up a bit. Ghana will face Angola in the quarterfinals, and I’ve got to say the home side will probably be favorites.
In other news, the Mali team are lodging a protest against dull 0-0 draws that knock them out of competitions, the Togo keeper previously reported as dead has recovered (somewhat) and his in stable condition, Chelsea condescendingly attempt to appear charitable, and Gary Neville shows the kind of mature leadership that one expects from a club like United.
y venga pibe de oro…
T minus 21 hours to CUP O NATIONS kickoff! Get psyched with the top 10 goals of CAN2008:
Proceedings are going ahead despite the Togolese bus attack. And Togo, despite earlier reports that they would pull out of the competition, are now saying that they will stay and play.
Thomas Dossevi told the AFP news agency the players wanted to stay in Angola in memory of the three people who were killed when rebels fired on their bus. L’Equipe quoted Alaixys Romao as saying the team would not leave like cowards. […]
“We are all heartbroken, it is no longer a party, but we want to show our national colours, our values and that we are men,” Thomas Dossevi said. “It was a decision taken nearly unanimously by the team which met during the night after having been reassured by the Angolan authorities,” he added. Alaixys Romao also said the decision had been unanimous.
Reports have been conflicting, with Manchester City reporting that Adebayor was already on his way home to Manchester. Hopefully things should be sorted out by tomorrow’s opening ceremonies, but I do hope they’ll decide to stay (if only for selfish desire for added cultural-athletic dramatics).
The initial response to the attacks from some European clubs—Portsmouth FC in particular—was pretty shameful.
The club with the greatest concerns over security is Portsmouth, which has Nwankwo Kanu with Nigeria, Aruna Dindane with Ivory Coast, and both Nadir Belhadj and Hassan Yebda in the Algeria squad.
“We have asked the (English) Football Association to ask FIFA how safe it is and to guarantee the safety of our players,” Portsmouth spokesman Gary Double told The Associated Press. “Our players’ safety is paramount and if that can’t be guaranteed the players should be sent home.”
Portsmouth hoped to take advantage of this awful tragedy in order to get their players sent back to England, not for any worry regarding their safety, but simply in order to bolster their squad for next week’s Premier League games.
Other European managers, such as “One” Arsène Wenger, showed a greater sensitivity, insisting that his players should stay, and play, for the good of football, and for the good of the continent:
“We won’t be asking Fifa to release them, and I’ll be happy for Eboué to play in Cabinda on Monday,” said Wenger. “I believe it would be disrespectful to Africa and the Africa Nations Cup [to bring them home]. You can’t always encourage Africa to develop and if something happens say ‘come back to Europe’.”
The manager added: “I don’t believe you can just stop any competition for any incident, because that would be a reward for the people who provoke these atrocities. It would mean any competition could be stopped at any time.
“An international federation has to make sure the security is well respected and good enough for the event. Of course, you have to leave it individually to some players so that, if they feel insecure or scared, they have the possibility to come away from it. But I personally feel the competition has to go on.”