The World Cup truly arrived in my life yesterday. Up until now I’ve watched every game on TV in my flat, but yesterday I watched the Czechs trounce the Americans in a park with a few beers and a currywurst; and in the evening I went to the Adidas World of Football thing in front of the Reichstag to watch the Italy-Ghana game.
To their credit, the Germans seem to have done a fantastic job organising the fan areas in Berlin. There’s the Fan Mile which is a bunch of big screens on the long straight road leading towards the Brandenburg Gate, where TV channels broadcast from. Then around the corner is this World of Football thing.
Next to all the mini football pitches and places to eat and drink there’s the main part: a temporary stadium seating maybe around 5 or 6,000 people with a big screen at either end.
In the centre, on the Astroturf pitch, there were some Ghana supporters who, I think, had won a competition. They got to watch the game from that sofa, with a big crate of beer. And midway through the game, some high-heeled and short-skirted ladies brought them McDonald’s meals.
After my ranting about the corporate nature of the sport we love, it was quite enjoyable to feel that such things can be good. This mini stadium was a really great thing. Loads of Italians and Ghanaians there; supporters from Sweden, Brazil and Croatia all here ready for their forthcoming games in the city, and a smattering of folks from many of the other nations involved. It was a genuine fan festival, and it felt amazing to be surrounded by it all. We even got to see foxy lasses in football kits dancing to a Bon Jovi song at half time…