do not mention the war

Anglo-German Football, discussion

In Anglo-German Relations on October 16, 2015 at 09:00

Being able to present my research to an interested and knowledgeable audience was a great experience and i have enjoyed it very much even though i had the feeling i have not answered each question.

Heureka Moment
However, there were heureka moments in this discussion.
While the English are often accused to mention the war in connection with football, the Germans were displaying their flag on their shirts in the first half of the 1990s. Michael Billig argues in his book that the constant display of the flag or other national symbols is nothing but nationalism. Though the West tends to play this down and marks it as patriotism but accuses people from Africa and Asia as being nationalist by doing the same. Indeed the English sports press revels in using war metaphors. By being condescending, the Germans at the same time apply nationalism in a rather banal way by wearing shirts with the national colours during matches. Additionally, they used the term Länderkampf to describe international matches or competitions. For decades football grounds had the word Kampfbahn in their name. To this day the ground of Altona 93 is called Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn.

Of course questions were asked whether i intend to turn this thesis into a book. In order to do so i first need a publisher and secondly the thesis would need an extension into the 21st century. Four games in particular need to be added.
The team that played at EURO 2000 must be considered as one of the worst German teams to ever participate a major tournament. This game was followed by the final game in the old Wembley Stadium, which Germany have won 1-0. Then a year later England have overrun Germany in Munich. Germany’s tabloid spoke of a capitulation and possibly hit the nail on the head with this assessment. Finally, the ghosts oc 1966 were at last laid to rest in Soutb Africa. Frank Lampard scored what appeared to be a good goal but the referee and his assistant denied this goal. Unlike 1966 there was evidence that the ball had indeed crossed the line. These are games that must be included in a book, if that is a viable option. However, this extension should take into account a different methodology, one that includes online media.



New Germany
The positive image of the German football was of course discussed. The radically altered image of Germany has its roots in the positive coverage of the 2006 World Cup by the English media. Half a century after the war, Germany and its citizens appeared to be at ease with its history and with itself. There was no longer any hint of the seriousness or German Angst that was usually accompanied with images of Germany. Instead Germans were seen as people who liked to party and have fun. When Jürgen Klopp signed a contract at Liverpool it was a remarkable event as it demonstrates further the regard England has for German football. German clubs may not win the Champions League regularly but their clubs do well in Europe and the national team is a major force in world football. Klopp’s arrival in Liverpool was surely a minor hype and but there was no euphoria, rather one of the best coaches in European football signed for one of the biggest clubs in England. How much the mood has changed within English media is highlighted by this article which was published just before the World Cup Final last year in Rio de Janeiro. Headlined, It’s OK to like Germany, the author described a wider development that older images and stereotypes were no longer valid. Germany have won the 2014 World Cup but in 2012 they were among the best teams but lost due to naivety, which was previously unknown to be a German characteristic. It is of course OK to like Germany just as much as there was no reason not to like the Fatherland. What this highlights is a change in attitudes which I have done in my thesis for the second half of the 20th century. Over this period stereotypes have been created and verified only to be dismantled and altered.

The discussion ended – unusual for Anglo-German football when it matters – after 94 minutes. It was interesting and exhausting but nonetheless enjoyable. I learned a lot and have gathered new ideas and most importantly I grew more confident that my research mattered and made me more optimistic for future research projects.

The whole discussion can be found on storify.


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