What World Cup?

A year ago Germany was awash in patriotism as the nation cheered on the national team in the World Cup. It was like hockey in Canada only more intense.

Business came to a halt during games. Church services were canceled. There were flags everywhere. Large screens were set up in public places to allow communal viewing. Beer flowed like water. If you didn’t wear a jersey on game days you at least had suitably patriotic clothing. I even picked up a Germany baseball cap – it was only a Euro – and bought some World Cup drinking glasses.

When the German team was eliminated the nation was in shock. They had expected to win the thing, to once again be world champions. Football (soccer to North Americans) is the biggest religion here.

It’s World Cup time again, but you’d never know it. There are no flags flying, no televisions in the market squares. No-one has mentioned it to me. The games are televised, but I don’t know if anyone is watching.

The difference this year is gender. Last year’s World Cup was the men’s team. This year it is the women’s game. That seems to make a difference here. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to the meaning.

As a Canadian, I am more excited with the women’s game. The last (and only) time Canada’s men made the World Cup was 1986 – and we failed to score a goal. Our women are contenders.

Four years ago the event was held in Canada, and I was able to attend some of the games in Ottawa. It was great football. This year the tournament is in France, and I thought about taking in a game, but the logistics didn’t work out – I’d have to miss work and I don’t want to do that for a sporting event.

So I’ll watch on television, Canada takes on Sweden tonight in the knock-out round. Germany is already through to the quarter-finals.

At some point they may face each other. A Canadian win would give me bragging rights over my German friends. But somehow I think they won’t care. Women’s football doesn’t seem to have much prestige over here.

Too bad really.

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