- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

I spent Friday night watching the exciting Germany-Costa Rica game on a giant screen with the local fans at the FanFest Festival in Waterloo Platz, Hannover.

Standing in the middle of 17,000 Germans waving flags and singing “Deutschland uber Alles” certainly made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

One young, intoxicated fan was trying to tell me something in a loud voice, but all I could make out was the word “vips” or “whips.” I asked for a translation, and then he uttered a common Anglo-Saxon vulgarity, which probably originated in these parts:

“[Expletive] the VIPS.”

I then noticed that we were both standing under the VIP section, where Hannover’s elite had their seats. Meanwhile, all of us were standing shoulder to shoulder for 90 minutes. It was only when I nodded in agreement that the friend of Karl Marx finally left me alone, and stumbled on, probably in search of another beer — the opiate of soccer fans.

• Going back into the city on the tram was a wild ride with fans chanting and jumping up and down, making the carriage shake like the stands at RFK Stadium during the Redskins’ glory days.

I boarded the high-speed ICE train to Frankfurt yesterday and I must say the Germans have a great rail system. But it’s wise to make reservations.

I did, but when I came to my seat, a stubborn elderly woman refused to move. Other passengers tried to help me, but she wasn’t going anywhere. Feeling sorry for her, I moved to another seat. Just my luck: At the next stop, I had to move because I was in a reserved seat. The conductor sympathized with my musical chairs fiasco.

I actually ended up helping the lady off the train, and we became quite friendly on the platform discussing “the football.” What a joy!

John Haydon

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