Sunday, February 15, 2009

Soccer Again

From the my last post, I was asked to translate the German parts.
Here is the full song, originally by Frank Zander about Hertha Berlin and with that, sung right before and right after every match played by the Hauptstadtclub (the Capital city club)

Nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause gehn wir nicht,

only at our house, only at our house, only at our house, we don't leave

Alle warten voller Spannung auf das absolute Spiel,

All wait with tension for the absolute play

denn die Jungens von der Hertha haben alle nur ein Ziel

when the young men from Hertha all have only one goal

:Heute wollen sie gewinnen für das blau-weiße Trikot,

Today they will win for the blue-white uniform

sowieso ohoh ohoh, und sowieso ohoh ohoh.Nur nach Hause ...

so how so, ohoh oh oh, and so how so, oh oh oh, only at the house

It's similair to the Arkansas fight song. Here's a youtube video of it being sung at the Olympiastadion. These are mostly Ultras that stand in the Ostkurve (the East Curve, it's the cheap seats...ten euros!). It is also my favorite place to stand. In this Youtube, they are NOT at the Olympiastadion, I can't really tell where they are playing but it is a smaller team.

You can kind of see the different scarves worn by all the people.

However, my blog post today is about a topic that doesn't pertain to just Berlin, but to the entirety of German football, as well as most European nations. It is the structure of the leagues. (I apologize for a second blog post in a row about soccer, but Hertha Berlin just took the top spot in first league Bundesliga this weekend, which is somewhat of a rarity.)

The structure of the league makes it all one entity. It is fairly foreign to Americans, but if there were an equivalent, it would be that all the minor league baseball leagues (triple-A, double-A, single- A, Class A short season, and Rookie) were all owned by Major League Baseball. The significant part of this, is that there is what is known as "promotion and relegation." If a team finishes in the top two places of the second league, it moves to the first league. This goes down all the way to the 7th league, if there is one. (there is in English soccer, for sure) To put it in perspective, say the Northwest Arkansas Naturals finished at the top of double A where they are now. They would move to triple-A. If they won it all there, they could be facing the New York Yankees. It gives the prospect of a small-town playing with the big leaguers, which is what happened when TSG Hoffenheim found a big time investor several years back. Hoffenheim is a town of 3,000 which now plays amongst the Munichs and Berlins of Germany.

With promotion comes relegation. The leagues all have a fixed number of 18. As two come into the league, the bottom two must leave. As you can see with the table below,

Hertha Berlin 40
1899 Hoffenheim 39
Hamburg SV 39
Bayern Munich 38
Bayer Leverkusen 36
VfL Wolfsburg 33
VfB Stuttgart 32
Borussia Dortmund 31
Schalke 04 30
Werder Bremen 27
Koln 25
Hannover 96 21
Eintracht Frankfurt 20
Arminia Bielefeld 18
VfL Bochum 17
Energie Cottbus 17
Karlsruher SC 17
Borussia M'gladbach 13

If the season were to of ended today, Borussia Mochengladbach and Karlsruher SC (Berlin's sister club) would be sent down to the 2nd league. Two members of the 2nd league would come to the first league. This makes for very exciting promotion and relegation races.

Other things to note about this situation:
  • The top three in the league go on to represent the UEFA Champions league which pits Germany's clubs against top teams from leagues across the continent. The winners (and qualifiers) stand to gain large amounts of advertising money, more fans, and international respect.
  • The fourth and the fifth teams in the league go on to represent Germany in the UEFA Cup, which is a similar competition of lesser standings.

I began thinking about promotion and relegation today, when FC Union Berlin (in the 3rd league, similar to the Naturals/Travelers) increased it's lead on first place in the Bundesliga 3, with the good chance of getting promoted to the 2nd league and perhaps one day playing against Hertha Berlin in the first league. Hertha is easy to like/follow in the states, because it is such a big club with international recognition and some games on tv. But, FC Union Berlin represents the east side where I lived and is more of a working man's club, which I identify with.

Here are a few pictures of my time going to FC Union games.

Union is a religion!

(Yes I felt weird taking a picture strangely close to a guys derrier, but it's a great picture.)

Kind of a great stadium, it's the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, or Stadium Near the Old Foresters House. Half is terraced by grass/dirt stands, and the other half is normal stands.
These are the Ultras for Eisern Berlin (Iron Berlin). They are displaying what's known as "tifo" short for the Italian word tifosi, which is any sort of organized display during a football match. It often includes flags, banners, smoke bombs, flares, or anything else to show organized allegiance to the team.

Sorry for the ramble on today, but I've been pretty excited about the results lately.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ha Ho He, Hertha BSC

I have decided to write about a pivotal part of the German culture, fussball. More specifically, my favorite team Hertha BSC.

Hertha was formed in 1900 in Berlin. Named after the Greek goddess Nerthus, Hertha has always been at the forefront of German football.

Similar to college football here, the pre-game festivities include plenty of beer and other vendors around the Olympiastadion, the 1936 stadium which Jesse Owens disproved Hitler's racist theories in the Olympics. The history of the stadium is very important, as fascist architectures and statues circle the stadium. A swimming pool from 1936 still exists on the grounds, as well as the track.

Scarfs are very popular throughout Europe. A scarf shows your allegiance to whichever team, as well as personal style. Here is a picture of me wearing my Hertha Berlin scarf on the back end of the Olympiastadion.

As the game is about to begin, the crowd begins singing:
nur nach Hause nur nach Hause, gehen wir nicht Alle warten voller Spannungauf das absolute Spiel denn die Jungens von der Herthahaben alle nur ein Ziel. Heute wollen sie gewinnenfuer das blau-weisse Trikot sowieso und sowieso
Hertha has had money problems for years and years, but it is finally reaching it's potential as Germany's Hauptstadt club. It ranks third out of the 18 bundesliga eins teams, behind annual powerhouse Bayern Muenchen and new money, TSG Hoffenheim.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A girandole \ˈjir-ən-ˌdōl\ is a "1 : a radiating and showy composition (as a cluster of skyrockets fired together) 2 : an ornamental branched candlestick 3 : a pendant earring usually with three ornaments hanging from a central piece"

Further definition can be found here.

When I think of a girandole and German culture, my mind instantly switches to the European Union flag:

An interesting aspect of German culture is it's willingness to display the E.U. flag at what appears to be at or above the level of the German national flag. I have many non-digital pictures of this as I was interested in Germany's strive to be simply a member of a greater European community rather than a nationalist blowhard which it has in the past. Here is a picture of them flying at what appears to be the same heighth.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Reconcile oder Versoehnen

Reconcile is to:

rec⋅on⋅cile  –verb (used with object)
1. to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired: He was reconciled to his fate.
2. to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable: to reconcile hostile persons.
3. to compose or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.).
4. to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent: to reconcile differing statements; to reconcile accounts.
5. to reconsecrate (a desecrated church, cemetery, etc.).
6. to restore (an excommunicate or penitent) to communion in a church.–verb (used without object)

To versoehnen or reconcile is to win over friendliness with one or another. It is important to reconcile after vicious fights and anger. It is important to reconcile with other ethnicities, genders, as well as age.

Racism is a virulent part of German history. While certainly not as overt as football matches in Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Serbia, racism and the denial of equal pay is a severe problem.

I took several pictures while living in Berlin. This next two were taken while roaming around the Garden houses in the Southeastern section built somewhat similarily to Levittowns as a means of therapy for the Germany Worker.

As well as this one:

It is unfortunate that the German people have not reconciled completely with race issues. It does not only span white German vs. Black but White German vs. Turkish, which is divided along socio-economic and religious lines. It is important to reach for versoehnen, or reconciliation.


My name is Adam Loos. I am 21 and a student at the University of Arkansas majoring in Political Science and International Relations with minors in Communication, Anthropology, and Latin American Studies. I hope to learn to teach others the beautiful German language. My first time on the European continent was a three week stay in Munchen, Berlin and Quakenbrueck. I returned in the Spring of 2008 to live for four months in the eastside of Berlin by myself. It was an epic experience which I hope to enrich other people's lives.