The World Cup is back. Until now, DW's Tamsin Walker has skillfully managed to keep her distance. But this time around, the tournament has come dangerously close to home.
The last time I watched a World Cup match, it was a bit of a spectacle. Not the me watching, (although now I come to think of it…) but more the feverish on-pitch action that saw Germany hammer Brazil seven goals to one. I'd watched it as a gesture of goodwill to a friend of mine, and only learned after the game that it had been legendary, a sporting slaughter, a stadium tragedy, the greatest humiliation in Brazil's footballing history. You get the picture. Which is more than I can say I did.
For all I knew, it was run-of-the-mill stuff. But then, when it comes to football, or soccer, or whatever it's called where you are, I freely admit I don't know much. Except perhaps that my watching seems to act like some kind of wildly lucky charm for my adopted home.
About that… this year will be my first World Cup as a new German and it's been put to me by fans of the sport that I now face a tough choice in deciding which country to support. Dilemmas, dilemmas. Actually, not so much. Because I don't like football. Not even a little bit. Not even the World Cup, for which most non-enthusiasts are happy to make an exception. At least I'm loyal to my dislike.
But before I cast myself as the all-time party pooping, parade-raining fun sponge, let me add that I do like the sense of soccer-soaked ecstasy that fills Berlin's streets, bars and parks during the weeks of major tournaments. I just don't need to be in the thick of it.
Not least, because in this city of endless public screenings, it's impossible to escape the cheers that follow a goal, the collective sighs that denote a near miss, the silent retreat to lick the wounds of defeat and the fireworks that screech and boom in celebration of a victory. Those distant sidelines will do for me.
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Football's come home
So it came as a bit of a shock yesterday morning when one of my daughters announced her intention to watch every single match on our sofa. Honestly, I thought she'd have forgotten about it by the time I got home, just like I had. But when I opened the front door at the end of the day, it was to the rumble and roar of televised footie, and the sight of her on the sofa, decked out in as much Germany fan gear as the hardest core aficionados. And Germany wasn't even playing.
She groaned at misses and cheered at goals, of which there seemed to be many (more slaughter?) and told me, lest her garb leave me in any doubt, that she hoped Germany would yet again emerge from the tournament victorious, and did her best rendition of a stadium chant.
When I asked her how she felt about England, she wanted to know if they'd "ever even won the World Cup," because she was under the impression that they might "suck at football."
It was a tiny pinprick of a comment, but it roused in me a momentary desire to hear (if not see) England perform a legendary act of on-pitch humiliation. I'm guessing that's not too likely. And I'm not convinced there would be much grace in an English win. But should my two homes meet on the pitch in the coming weeks, I might even be tempted to sit down with my daughter and watch. Who knows when and for whom the lucky charm factor might kick into action.
In Berlin and Beyond, British-born Tamsin Walker takes a closer look at some of the quirks and perks of life in Germany, which has been her home for almost 20 years. She tweets as @TamsinkateW