Why We Can’t be Supporters of Germany


It was a telling slip by Irish manager Martin O’Neill. ‘Jon Walters is the essence of our club’ before qualifying his remark: “We have a club mentality.” For many Republic of Ireland fans, particularly those who travel to away games, the national team is very much their club side.  Ron Ullrich of cult German football magazine 11freunde.de argues the opposite is the case for the World Champions for whom, he says, he has ‘no love left.’

I remember a conversation with a teacher long ago when he asked me about the then forthcoming matchday. I said “We play Freiburg“ and he really found this term amusing. He asked me: “We? Are you taking part in it?“ Well, nearly every club supporter I know once experienced this laconic question from anyone who is not really into following a football team.
We all declared it a thousand times that WE have won, lost or drew a game for the simple reason that it is not only the very basic belief of bonding and synergy between the ones on and off the pitch contributing to the excitement of the game. But also supporters, actually, not mystically change the progress of a game, if not an entire game. A night in Istanbul in 2005 proves this thesis to be true.

The interesting thing is that we never mention the word “We” when it comes to the national team. None of my friends would ever say: “Oh, we play Ireland on Thursday!” It is “the national team”, “Germany” or even “the Germans” instead, never “Die Mannschaft” which is just another PR term presumably created by people having name cards that read “Senior editing chief project manager” and indeed spend their whole days reading it over and over again.

It is not that Germany has an unpleasant team with disgusting characters or whatever. The likes of Thomas Müller or Lukas Podolski have been entertaining whether they stood in front of defenders or microphones. They play popular, attacking football and even after hammering Brazil they kept a kind of decency. We know all that and the past World cup admittedly spread pure joy but this never reached the intensity of feelings the beloved club causes. I would always prefer an ugly equaliser in the very last minute, in a boring mid-table encounter to a World Cup-winning wonder goal.

germanyIt is because you stick to your club for your entire life, in primary school, in school, in your working years, as a child, as a father, as an old man. How could one really compare that to the mere sympathy for the national team lasting for three or four weeks?

Favouring Germany and watching the national team during a tournament could be a holiday flirt at the most. You might be cheering for the short period it lasts and declaring to stay in contact, but you know this will never happen. Ok, there are some people out there married to their holiday love. And somewhere surely some people exist who follow Germany in its qualification games. Maybe they are the same people, maybe they even met at a World Cup qualifier somewhere in Belarus or Andorra and twinkled to each other charmingly when Schürrle scored the fifth away goal. I wish the followers and fans of the German national team all the best for their path but I simply can’t accompany them. Just because…

I am too exhausted from screaming my lungs out and torturing my nerves for 34 games of a season plus German cup and international cup games that there are simply no reserves of lifeblood left.
Isn’t it a bit schizophrenic to cheer for the players you called all things under the sun just some weeks before when they scored against your favourite team?

“The weekends of an international break are perfectly timed for seeing if your girlfriend is still living with you and for all other things you can’t handle during the season such as cleaning the basement, celebrating birthdays, weddings or attending burials.”

There are too many people in the stands at Germany matches who wave flags presented by Coca Cola and have literally no clue about, or interest in, the game. No need for mentioning a certain name (and thereby exposing Angela M.) and sounding way more elite and arrogant, but sorry, it tells the whole story when some people explained Germany’s defeat against Italy in 2012 with the lack of loudness when the players sung the anthems…

It is always the same clapping and chanting; the national team supporters have a variation of three or four different songs, which is definitely way more than Linkin Park had for example, but still shows all the monotony one will experience during German games.

And the last one is not very rational but with my team I am accustomed to players throwing it all away when they are near to winning something, used to all this anger and disappointment throughout the years that maybe I can’t cope without it. It is too late for me to support a winning side with its gold medals. I cheer for the underdogs, old habits die hard. So call me a fatherland traitor but you can hear me mumbling…

“Come on You Boys in Green!”

Visit 11.freunde.de and follow Ron Ulrich on Twitter: @_Roul

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