DI didn’t see the game against Austria that eliminated Germany from the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. But I remember it clearly. I was nine years old, we were on holiday in Denmark and there was no television in the holiday home my parents had rented. That alone would have been bad enough for me. It was the first World Cup that I consciously experienced as a football fan. I was convinced that Germany would repeat the triumph of 1974 and I would have given up the summer holidays for the opportunity to see every game. I only found out about the 3-2 defeat against Austria the day after, when German newspapers arrived in the small town in Jutland. I cried my heart out half the day from disappointment, pain and anger.
From then until the first game of the German national team in Qatar On November 23rd I only missed one other World Cup game by the German team. I had to follow the transmission of the semi-final against Spain 2010 on the radio during a car trip that couldn’t be postponed. I’ve never experienced such an empty freeway before – and that was a good thing, because it would have overwhelmed me to pay attention to other road users. Despite the empty streets, I had to pull into the nearest parking lot after Carles Puyol headed in the winning goal for the Spaniards in the second half.
I am boycotting the World Cup in Qatar this year. I haven’t seen a match or read a match report. The decision to do this has matured over the years, but I only realized what it meant after it started on November 20th. The games were shown on the TVs in the offices of colleagues, and everyone was talking about them. On the radio, in the newspaper, and on the internet, I was constantly reminded of what I was missing. That’s why I still noticed how the German team played. And even if I haven’t seen the games, the results don’t leave me indifferent.
It got confusing when I found out by chance in a restaurant on Thursday evening that the Germans were leaving; People at the next table were talking about it. First there was the old reflex of getting annoyed about defeats by the national team, then relief: the temptation, which grew with every game, to check the live ticker from time to time will no longer be so great. But my phantom pains are not over – the World Cups in 1978, 1994, 1998 and 2018 did not end for me with the elimination of the Germans. At the latest in the semi-finals it will be difficult again. The fact that the German national team has to travel home early makes it a little easier for me; you could almost say that the team is doing me a favor with their embarrassing performance.
I find the German World Cup debates self-righteous
This is all the more so because the boycott so far has been tougher than I had imagined. I echoed all the strong emotions I’ve experienced in eleven world championships. Perhaps it’s ridiculous for a grown man to let a mundane entertainment event mess with his emotional life. And what’s probably even more ridiculous is that I’m still sticking with my boycott – even though I know that this gesture doesn’t make the world a better place, and even though some people might find it worth less now because it costs me less personally.