The Price of Victory | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 29.06.2002
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The Price of Victory

Only one team can be the winners after the World Cup Final in Yokohama on Sunday, but will the new World Champions ultimately end up as losers?


The most boring team ever to win the World Cup? Germany faces criticism even if the trophy comes home with them.

Two sides will play for the coveted trophy this weekend but outside their own country, it would be a fair bet that not many supporters will be shouting for Germany.

With the majority of the planet set to become honourary Brazilians for a day, even victory could weigh heavy on the Germans in one of their finest hours.

The German team has carried the weight of press criticism from the moment they ignominiously fell from grace at the last World Cup.

This has been compounded by their downfall during the doomed assault on the European Championships in 2000, the faltering qualifying campaign for Japan/Korea and a certain game against England in Munich last September.

Boring play and Rudi's mullet have come under fire

Pressekonferenz mit Rudi Völler

Rudi Völler defends his players against criticism and his hair from a pair of scissors.

From Rudi Völler’s haircut to the stifling and defensive tactics executed by the players, the current squad has played every match in this tournament against myriad challenges. Not only have they faced the opposing teams but also scrutiny at home and abroad concerning everything that has surrounded their bid for the title.

Critics have cited the perceived ‘easy’ draw the Germans have had to get to the final, along with the lack of attractive football that has worn down more creative sides and achieved victory through lucky, last-gasp goals.

So, if Germany are crowned World Champions on Sunday, they will undoubtedly be labled by many as the worst side, or the luckiest, to ever win a World Cup.

Credit where credit's due?

Michael Ballack jubelt nach seinem Tor, Deutschland gegen Südkorea 1:0

Michael Ballack has been one of the obvious success stories for Germany.

Will no-one recognise the rebuilding process that has taken a team, dismantled by Croatia in 1998, to the summit of World Cup glory? Will nobody hail the world class performances of Golden Ball nominees Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack? Those who dare to acknowledge these German accomplishments will be in the minority.

And so, Germany as World Champions will still lose out in many ways.

Victory for Brazil could set back vital reforms

Their opponents, Brazil, stand to lose a great deal more. Although their victory over the Germans would be seen as a triumph of flair over efficiency, of passion over rationality, the celebrations back at home may have dire political and social consequences.

Brasilianische Fans feiern ausgelassen den Einzug ins Viertelfinale

Party time could prove a serious distraction in Brazil.

A relatively young democracy, many things have changed for the better in the 13 years since the first elections. But corruption in Brazil is still apparently rife in certain circles, football being one. The party that could consume the whole country may be enough to distract the populace from the vital reforms Brazil desperately needs to counter the scourge that has plagued it for decades.

Football holds such power over the people that a good result for the team can also mean success or failure in sociological terms. When the team are doing well, no one seems bothered by the official sleaze. A bad performance on the pitch, however, can ignite public disgust.

A historic win but for whom?

Der glückliche Torschütze Ronaldo

A winners medal for Ronaldo?

The Olympic defeat by Cameroon two years ago followed by the disgust at Nike’s sponsorship of the national team and the strange episode of Ronaldo’s pre-final fit in 1998 led to two parliamentary inquiries into the Brazilian Football Federation. Their catchphrase, ‘ethics is for philosophers’, was never so sorely exposed.

The winning team of Ronaldo and Co. could make losers of the people who support them – the Brazilian public.