My brother recently came to visit us from Canada for a weekend. Hayden loves soccer and my mum has wanted to take him to a game in Germany for a while. She managed to find four tickets, very last minute, to a Friday night Bundesliga game in Leverkusen, near Cologne. I am not at all a soccer fan but I wanted to spend time with my brother so I tagged along with my patience in pocket for what I thought would be a very boring experience. I was SO WRONG.
I had no idea that soccer fans could be so entertaining. Everyone around us was in absolute rapture for the entire game and there was a lot of screaming and swearing in multiple languages. We were early to the game because we were not sure what time it started but there were already thousands of people sitting in their seats with beer and pretzels, anxiously waiting to watch the players warm up. The atmosphere was great and I would have been happy to sit there for the entire game if that had been the climax of the excitement.
Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut
I should mention that my German is terrible. I have made an effort to learn German but I travel to other countries a lot and most people in Europe speak English so few people want to spend time listening to me struggle in German. However, I was pretty sure that I had seen a “fireworks forbidden” sign flash across the mega screen during the warm up. My brother was convinced that I must be wrong but “Verboten” is a German word I am very familiar with since it keeps me out of trouble…. usually. I digress.
At the exact moment that the game kicked off, the fans of the opposing team set off fire works in their seats. They lasted for over 5 minutes and firemen calmly stepped out to supervise and make sure no errant sparks caused any harm. None of the fans were removed or arrested, though there were cops on hand. Apparently, this is a normal occurrence at Bundesliga and everyone comes prepared. The amazing thing was, the game never slowed down during the explosions and the dedicated fans ignored them to focus on the game! The stadium filled with green smoke and fireworks but everyone just ignored it because they took the game so seriously.
The rest of the game was a lot of fun, we had awesome pretzels and the game ended in a tie. A drunk man followed us back to the bus and asked us about Canada all the way there. Even though the fans set off fireworks at the beginning of the game, everyone was much more calm and relaxed when we left than Jays or Leafs fans would be back home in Toronto. It was almost as if they had to do something extra crazy to balance out the order of the rest of the night.