Germany’s World Cup dream may have been shattered, but that didn’t stop German fans from celebrating second place yesterday. The majority conceded that the Brazilians simply outclassed the German team.
Even coming second is reason enough to celebrate
Pain pierced the hearts of millions of Germans as the final whistle blew in Yokohama yesterday and the stadium erupted in a sea of yellow and green.
Thousands of cafes, bars and living rooms all over Germany witnessed similar scenes – German fans with their hands clapped over their mouths, tears springing to their eyes, their beer forgotten as the shock and disappointment of losing out on the Football World Cup title sank in.
But despite the grief that settled on the nation, the majority of Germans were quick to recover and swallow their disappointment.
"What the hell, being second isn’t that bad" – equipped with that motto, thousands of hard-core fans decided to party anyway, even to the sound of Brazilian drums and samba.
No where was that more visible than in Berlin, as the Kudamm, the long commercial boulevard in the west, was brought to a standstill by thousands of fans dancing and blaring their car horns.
Celebrating the end together
And it wasn’t just the Germans and the Brazilians partying. Berlin's sizeable Turkish population decided to join in the party and celebrate the performance of their team’s win over South Korea on Saturday.
A colourful cultural carnival spontaneously sprung up on the boulevard as Brazilians dressed in trademark green and yellow skimpy g-strings did the samba. Turkish fans raced up and down in their cars, hooting loudly and hanging their flag out and chanting "Tuerkiye, Tuerkiye." Some 10,000 Germans draped their red, black and gold tricolour around themselves and roared "Deutschland".
The beer flowed, firecrackers exploded and hardly anything seemed to dampen the high spirits. Not even some hundred sorely disappointed German fans who got into scuffles with the police and tried to deter their partying fellow citizens.
Even the Chancellor masks disappointment
Even German Chancellor Schröder, who has been trying to cash in on the "feel-good" factor and use every opportunity to show off his soccer skills, was determined to be positive on Sunday.
Schröder, who in recent times has often been photographed leaping for joy every time Germany made a goal, said "I am not disappointed. It was a great game by a fantastic team. Naturally there is a bit of nostalgia, it (Germany’s victory) could have worked".
German press moans the loss
But Germany’s press wasn’t as forgiving as the fans. Several mixed criticism of goal-keeper Oliver Kahn’s error with praise for a team no one expected to advance so far.
Berlin’s "Der Tagesspiegel" wrote a simple headline: "Germany, what a Shame". "One mistake is a mistake too many", read the headline in Munich’s "Süddeutsche Zeitung." The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" proclaimed on its sports page, "Kahn opens the gate for Brazil’s fifth World Cup title."
In a commentary, the paper wrote that Germany was the better team even though Brazil had several brilliant individual players – "Brazil is the World Champion – Germany has the best team in the world".
"Kahn’s tragic mistake" said the "Bild", Germany’s largest selling newspaper that for weeks had praised the man to the skies with a series of blow-ups and headlines. "The football god must be Brazilian after all", the paper said in a front-page article. "We were so close".
But all is not lost for a country no doubt smarting despite the take-it-in-your-stride attitude. There will be renewed hope of victory for German fans when Germany hosts the 2006 soccer World Cup.