A Flat World and a Round Ball

With the final stage of the World Cup approaching, now is a good opportunity for a mid-tournament appraisal. This year’s Cup, unlike the previous one in Japan and South Korea in 2002, didn’t witness any real upsets in the first round. Switzerland and Australia surprisingly reached the elimination round, and the Asian and African teams disappointed somewhat, with only Ghana advancing. There have been just two ugly matches so far, full of fouls, nasty attacks, and unnecessary aggression, as well as numerous yellow and red cards: Italy vs. the US, and Portugal vs. the Netherlands. Otherwise, we’re experiencing a wonderful Cup in Germany, in terms of both sportsmanship and the overall atmosphere.

As for Germany and the Germans, one hardly recognizes one’s own country and people. Even Mother Nature has played along. After a long winter and a non-existent spring, summer started promptly with the first kick-off – and virtually overnight, Germany has flaunted its sunniest and most delightful side. The weather is Mediterranean, and all of a sudden, so are the people.

The Cup’s organization has been exceptional (as was to be expected), with excellent police work giving hooligans hardly a chance. The whole of Germany has been celebrating a never-ending party with guests from all over the world (which was not expected). And the German team has put on a wonderful display of heart warming and modern offensive soccer (which nobody could have expected!).

More importantly, not only in the German team, but also in the country as a whole, a young, cool, laid-back, and carefree Germany is raising its head – a Germany that is cosmopolitan, friendly, and good-humored. Years of bad news appear to have passed the Germans by without a trace. Doctors are on strike, taxes are on the rise, the parties in government are mauling each other, and Chancellor Angela Merkel herself proclaimed in a prominent speech that the country is in disastrous shape. But the Germans, undaunted by it all, simply keep celebrating one great soccer party with their newfound friends from all over the world.