First Published in The Independent, June 20th 2006

The great tram trauma

The World Cup has so far been a massive success. All 12 host cities have by now staged at least two matches and everybody is on their best behaviour. Even the East Germans and the English. The peaceful party atmosphere is greatly helped by the weather, as it’s just too hot to hurl plastic chairs around. You much rather sit on them. Preferably in the shade. It was therefore very unlucky that the sun didn’t wear its hat on the day of the Germany-Poland match. Feel free to blame the 430 arrests on the lower temperatures. No, blame it on the Poles.

Last Friday I was unfortunate enough to be not only an eyewitness but also a victim of the World Cup’s first proper organisational cock-up. Well, the first one that couldn’t be blamed on Fifa. Bogestra, Gelsenkirchen’s public transport provider obviously forgot about the Argentina-Serbia match and did not provide trams from the station to the ground. Once the first tram arrived after a 40-minute wait I found myself in a gigantic scrum fierce enough to push back the whole England rugby team. Not that this is saying much at the moment.

Angela Merkel must be praying for Germany to stay in the competition for as long as possible. Not only because success on the pitch usually improves a Chancellor’s popularity but because the government gets away with murder as long as Klinsmann’s boys are marching on. Last week saw VAT being increased from 16 per cent to a mind-boggling 19 per cent. However, people were so busy watching football, drinking beer and singing the national anthem that nobody could be bothered to storm the Reichstag.

Today will decide whether England and Germany will meet in the last 16. Given the choice between a party with 70,000 drunk English or 50,000 Swedes, among them legions of gorgeous blonde girls, one should hope for the latter. I’m not saying football is none of a woman’s business and they shouldn’t be at the World Cup in the first place, but I wonder how serious about football those ladies really are. I know for a fact that none of them has ever been to see her team turn out on a cold Tuesday night in Grimsby.

Therefore, let’s hope that T&T pull it off against Paraguay and Germany get to play Dwight Yorke and his mates next Saturday. This would be the easiest option and the match also gives German football the chance to inflict hurt on the former Manchester United man Yorke in revenge for Bayern Munich’s terrible night in Barcelona in 1999.
Whatever happens, Germany must win Group A as coming second would mean we’d have to play our quarter-final in Gelsenkirchen and, quite frankly, they don’t deserve a Deutschland match after the embarrassing tram chaos.

Posted by Henning Wehn on Tuesday, June 20th, 2006.
Filed Under: Writing


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