They came to Germany from all corners of the earth, and yesterday they all left, providing Berlin’s airports with their busiest day in their history. And if you had just arrived from another planet, and didn’t know why these hundreds of thousands of people with painted faces and strange tri-colour hats were in Germany, the decorations at Berlin’s Tegel airport might have provided a clue.
I was one of the lucky 70,000 that had a ticket to the World Cup final, but I wasn’t so lucky finding somewhere to stay. The only accommodation I could find was a small hotel out in the country about 30 kms to the west of Berlin.
When I arrived late Sunday afternoon, the hotel proprietor told me that it was easy to get to the stadium – all I had to do was walk 1 km along a road through a forest, and I would find a station at the village of Finkenkrug from which I could take a train to Spandau, and then change onto another train for the Olympic Stadium. Only problem was when I got to the station, the next train was not for another 45 minutes, and there were no taxis around, so I had no option but to wait. I ended up reaching the stadium just one minute before kick-off, so missed all the hip-swinging pre-match entertainment.
I had to push my way past hundreds of people outside the stadium, many of whom were pleading with me to sell my ticket to them – one Italian guy was so upset about not having a ticket he was nearly in tears.
I had decided to support France because the Italians had knocked the Australians out of the tournament with a single goal from a very dubious penalty call by a Spanish referee who will probably never dare to set foot in Australia, but when I took my seat I found I was surrounded by vocal Italian supporters. I tried to appear ‘neutral’ but momentarily forgot when France scored the first goal – I cheered, and all the Italians turned and glared at me, so I sunk back into my seat and kept quiet after that.
A man in his early twenties next to me was constantly punching the air with his fist shouting “Italia, Italia” and I spent most of the match trying to dodge his elbow. After the French scored their goal in the seventh minute, he pulled out a packet of cigarettes and chain-smoked his way through the rest of the match (not a very pleasant experience for a non-smoker). A young Italian girl behind me was so nervous she was constantly kicking me in the back with her feet, and when the Italians were ruled offside after putting the ball into the net in the second half, the supporters on the other side of me jumped up in protest and spilled a mug of beer over my feet.
It was an exciting match, and a great experience to be there, but not such a great ‘spectator experience’. As I walked back through the dark forest near my hotel in the early hours of the morning, in my beer sodden socks and shoes, I wondered whether I should have sold my ticket to the teary eyed Italian outside the stadium after all.
Critiques | Translate
blakitan (1311) 2006-07-11 4:40
Funny sign and interesting use of soccer ball for decoration at the airport. Nice shot.
wanna_yu (0) 2006-07-11 4:48
I spent 4 days in Berlin during the World Cup but I regret I wasn't there that final night. Good shot for saying goodbuy :)
clnaef (6289) 2006-07-11 4:59
On dirait que cette décoration n'a été mise en place que pour être photographiée.
Voltri (1777) 2006-07-11 5:06
David, I'd check WB in your photo, because while color looks grey.
But your comment is amazing and very intresting - thanks for sharing some exclusive info :)
orme (7219) 2006-07-11 5:42
Your note/story is brilliant, David - but sorry you had such an 'eventful' experience.
Cheering for France in amongst Italian supporters - you are a brave man.
Good composition here. Well seen and framed.
PJE (20758) 2006-07-11 8:01
Wow David what a wonderful personal glimpse from your perspective in the stands. Perhaps you should have sold the ticket afterall. How much could you have sold it for? I am sure you could buy yourself alot of nice new clean socks with the money. I guess it would have helped to be seated in the pro France seats instead. I am glad you posted this photo and told us your encounter.
A game is a game and in World Cup Soccer I had imagined the game to win a little differently than it turned out. I was cheering for France too because they dominated the game in the second half. Then the France captian did the arrogant head bang on the opponents chest. That is sad ....really a sad way to end a career. I wish there was a winning goal instead of a penalty kick shoot off. Its not my idea of how it should be played. My son just showed me a online game that showed Zadine head butting the opponent. That stupid move will not be forgotten, nor forgiven.
startacked (1371) 2006-07-11 9:41
Nice note, looks you were paying more attention to the people arround you than watching the game. (:
Your picture: is there motion blur, the sign isn't ultra sharp. The WB feels strange too. TFS, Gilbert
devimeuxbe (58557) 2006-07-11 9:45
This is a very interesting composition with an humoristic touch.
Nice idea to post this one in the right actuality.
siolaw (38294) 2006-07-12 10:07
Lucky you ! to be in the stadium!! but a disappointing game for french supporters(as me!!!)Your photo says everything about leaving Berlin and the cup , without words... some go back NYC some Doha, others elsewhere! nice POV, DOF, framing...TFS
capthaddock (28790) 2006-07-23 19:08
Hi David - all the elemts, the football, the crowds and the roadsigns combine to makje an effective composition to suit the event, and as usual a very entertaining note.
andante (7092) 2006-07-24 13:07
WOW! a first hand experience from somebody who was there. Envy/not envy.
Have you tried using the auto curves to balance the color? Other than that it is a great comp and documentary image.
plimrn (21344) 2006-07-29 13:27
I would have sold the ticket, but then you wouldn't have this lovely story. Of course having the ticket was a huge honor and you would have to answer to the person that providedc the ticket for you, so better you got beer sodden socks and a lovely story. I really like the photo as well with the neat framing of the balls below the distance signs. Outstanding artistic vision and story.
prumod (8300) 2006-09-23 13:10
very nice capture with beautiful note... i like you pov to get this view...