This time in Rio de Janeiro but as much connected to football (or ‘futchibol’ – as the locals pronounce it, but the also call Michael Ballack ‘Ballaki’) as last time. Brazil just lots the quarter final match against france and that led to an atmosphere of intense sadness in the streets (against the backdrop of lots of firecrackers exploding in the streets but i guess these have to be used anyway). People are crying, some of them are dancing and i have seen the first Portuguese flags hanging out of windows.
What a contrast to the last game when the city erupted into a spontaneous party after the win over Ghana, which even made people miss flights and will be remembered for some time. Also at some point during that party i discovered that the Cariocas have much more style when it comes to pissoirs than the dutch:
Anyway the world-cup just downgraded itself to a euro-cup. I really wish the argentinians would still be in, they did not deserve to loose.
Looks like the football world cup has begun today. Unfortunately i am traveling to berlin on this very same day (by train via Arnhem/Duesseldorf), which means that you have to share the slightly overcrowded train with about 300 english football supporters and lots of bottles of more or less warm beer (i never loved my sound-canceling headphones more). However it also means that the authorities are freaking out in the name of security and decide to stop the train at the border station (where it usually does not stop) in order to let a posse of badly dressed, short-haired idiots wearing reflective vests on board of the train to check everybody’s passport.
Now everyone including the train staff assumed they would board the train and then do the checking while the train is moving. Instead the well-dressed gentlemen who was in charge of the whole operation had the brilliant idea to stop the train for the entire duration of the operation.
When asked them if he thought that this was a good idea his even less intelligent sidekick (with a much bette taste in facial hairdo though) told us that the stop was not related to their activities, but due to the trains engine having to be changed at the border. Now this is the biggest bullshit i have heard in a long time as there was (a) no stop scheduled and (b) the ICE3 does not even have a separate engine but rather a number of electrical motors under all the carriages. He also told us ‘to shut up as it was none of our businesses’
Now, to make matters worse, the 20-or-so cops decided that it was most efficient if they would walk through the entire train in one big group instead of splitting up in smaller groups. the result: the aisle clotted by a slowly moving mass of cops who were permanently bumping into each other (i guess that is why they were wearing kevlar vests) and stepped on each others feet while shouting personal data of everyone looking remotely British or non-european into their mobile phones.
All in all this truly impressive display of collective intelligence took more than 30 minutes. No terrorists where apprehended, the English supporters got their first good laugh at the German police and everybody missed their connections (which on a Friday afternoon is a bit of a pain in the neck).
Also shortly before Duisburg the bar ran out of beer which is a bit embarrassing as the Deutsche Bahn is one of the main sponsors o the wold cup and has been running ads depicting happy supporters on trains for quite awhile now. Somebody at market research should have told them that happy football supporters consume more beer than average train passengers.
It seems that the Dutch are not the only ones to prepare themselves for the Soccer World Cup. In Berlin advertisements of the German red cross have started to appear on billboards in various s-bahn stations. The advertisements show a young red-cross paramedic (with a 70es haircut, a reference to ’74?) that bandages the knee of a fully dressed out Dutch football supporter:
The caption on the picture reads, ‘in action for everybody’, which at least to me sounds like ‘ we really help everybody, even those who are scum’… guess the Dutch won’t really appreciate this. And what ever happened to the red-cross? i always thought they where for peace, love and harmony.
One of the the most notable achievements of the Dutch in recent history has been the introduction of targeting aids in the men’s rooms in public toilets. The whole thing seems to originate from Amsterdams schiphol airport (having such a fine airport makes living in Amsterdam much more bearable than it would be otherwise). It seems that having a fly depicted in the bowl of a pissoir significantly reduces the amount of misdirected urine in such places (which is a good thing).
Another remarkable trait of dutch society is how closely Heineken has managed to associate itself with a) queens day and b) the national soccer selection without actually sponsoring neither of them. They have done this by launching high profile give-away actions in the run-up to queens day and important games of the national soccer team.
Now it looks like that the marketing geniuses at Heineken have started to gear-up for this years soccer world cup. Tonight i have come across a soccer-themed orange urinoir mat (the plastic inlay that is supposed to keep cigarette butts out of the water pipe) in a Heineken equipped Thai restaurant on Zeedijk in Amsterdam:
Seems like I have again underestimated the inventiveness (utter stupidity?) of the human mind. Hope i will make it through this summer without developing a serious drug addiction…
I went to a soccer match for the third time in my life today: AC milano against Reggina (still have no clue where or what reggina is though). The first time was Hannover 96 against Bayern München and the second time was Celtic Glasgow against 1FC Köln. Doing this i saw my first ever live goal. I missed the two goals in of 96 against Bayern because i was looking the other way when they were scored and i missed all 5 goals during Glasgow against Köln because the day before a truck had run over my glassed and i could see shit. Today i missed the first goal (i was still walking up one of the spirals of San Siro) but i saw the 2nd (Milano) and the third (Reggiano).
Empty south curve of San Siro stadion
I had gone to see the match because it rained and i did not know what to do and i always wanted to immerse in the atmosphere of serie a match. I bought a ticket for the fan block of AC only to be found out that the fans where boycotting the match and would not let anyone in during the first half of the match. Apparently they were protesting against the ever stricter regulation football fans in italy have to face. There where banners saying ‘+ decreti -spettatori’ All over the empty blocks in San Siro. So i went for a non boycotted section for the first half. Of course this completely defied the aim of immersing in the atmosphere as the stadion was almost silent with the hard core fans being outside. (hence the title of the post which translates into ‘bad mood’). The second half had a much better mood to it but as the 2 goals for Milan where scored in the first half the whole thing was less than satisfying…
Did i mention that it rained?
Update (07.oct.05): there are a couple of pictures taken from the opposite site showing the southern tribune during first and second half of the match on the fossa dei leoni site.