Berlin is gorgeous, sunny and hot. And all around can one feel football Wold Cup in the air. One can see the matches in bars and cafes, restaurants and even theatres and cinemas. It’s really amazing. Luckily, I like football. And I even bear at least still the horns that go on day and night on the streets where the fans pass. It seems like a lot of new unsold cars are being rented out for the world cup.
The city is full of crowds carrying different national colours. I had to wear red today, England’s playing. The another day I had on a T-shirt with the Finnish president as Che Guevara – just to expect any questions and to answer that she’s our best football player. With irony, we Finns have good football players even though we did not qualify… Last night the German TV was showing Angela Merkel in the VIP seats – we even saw repeats of her sheering a goal, which finally was offside. The commentator said that she would have been allowed to bring her husband with her. Funny how football is still seen as only a male sport, even though there are a lot of women in the audiences too.
Last night was really busy – I was seeing fans running around next to the Friedrich strasse station. We had planned to go to the fan mile, but finally decided that it’s going to be too crowded, and since it’s almost a derby with Germany playing against Poland, we went to a place called the Theaterbar, a small theatre on an old factorysite. I heard this morning that there had been clashes between German and Polish hoolingans, but they were mainly in Dortmund – and in any case apparently the hooligans tended prefer fighting further away from the crowds.
Nationalism is another thing that’s a hot topic these days. There are people, especially on the left, who strongly oppose the commercialised sports and the nationalism that goes with it. Waving a German flag is seen as too much, disgusting and … nationalist. Others think that it’s good for the Germans to celebrate a bit and not be so pessimistic about themselves and depressed as they have been. Journalists try to find out whether or not this flag-waving and face paint is “only about football”. Well, I guess it’s about football, but also about something beyond it. One should not worry, nation is only one point of identification.
In the same way the commercialised spaces flag a canon of corporate symbols: from Coca-Cola to Master Card and so on. These two contrast each other, but in some way also the message that they display is being watered down. As long as it’s not only Germany or not only Coca-Cola that’s on the display, there’s still some pluralism around.