Integrating in Germany: picking a German football club

No love is lost between Germany and the Netherlands in football matters. World Championship 1974, anyone? I myself have always preferred English football over German. It just never occurred to me that it might be fun too, you know. I choose Liverpool back in 2002 (for not altogether admirable reasons I admit, but at least I stuck with the LFC, Michael Owen didn’t) and that was it. Although the Bundesliga was broadcast on Dutch television in those early days I routinely skipped it. And that says a lot for someone who used to watch ‘every ball rolling’, according to dad.

One of the things I love most about living abroad is visiting foreign football matches. I have great memories of Dundee games with Sam, or the Istanbul nights with the international girls’ crowd. But for some reason or another I haven’t managed to visit a game here yet. And mind you, Hamburg has not one but two teams: HSV (Dutch people will recognize this name, as Rafael van der Vaart played here for several years) and St. Pauli. According to one of my German acquaintances HSV is only worth going to if you get free VIP tickets. An indication of how bad the football usually is, I still plan to go to at least one HSV and one St. Pauli match. I just don’t know when yet, as I lacked both time and company before, and the season is almost over by now. Maybe in August then!

Previous times picking a new favourite team was fairly easy. Dundee had only one team worth mentioning, and I lived on the Asian side in Istanbul, where Fenerbahçe was the only option. In Germany on the other hand quite a few options are possible. Next to local teams HSV and St. Pauli there of course is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s Schalke 04 or Arjen Robben’s Bayern München. I used to live inbetween HSV and St. Pauli, these days St. Pauli is the closer option. Plus, real Hamburgers and Hamburgerinnen are St. Pauli fans. But I will wait making definite choice until after I’ve visited at least two games, just to be fair to both.

But to my surprise I found myself supporting Bayern München this week. I’m not sure yet whether I should make a habit of that, you know, to balance all the sadness that Liverpool causes. Somehow that feels too easy, supporting the team that’s on the winning side of things in 9 out 10 cases. Or more like 9.7 out of 10 matches or so. But this week they really earned my support. When I was asked about my preferences just before the game I said Atleti, because of a certain Fernando Torres. I know, I know, he left us for a larger bag of money and all that, but I would argue that he was punished decently enough for that by flopping at Chelski. I forgot for a second that Bayern too has a former Liverpool player in its squad, and one that is at least equally sympathetic.

What really turned me round this time though was Bayern’s play. There seemed to be only one team wishing to win that night, and it wasn’t Atleti. So I couldn’t help hoping for that one more Bayern goal, that would take them all the way to the final. But having said that, true Hamburgers don’t support a southern German team. I guess my choices will be limited to any of the bad local teams. Alas..

Photo credits: Marcello Casal Jr/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

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