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Germany: Right here, right now

Munich starts magical mystery tour with goals galore in the World Cup opening match against Costa Rica.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 12:00 IST

Matchday morning in Munich. Suddenly, the city's come alive in a riot of sound and colour. The calm of the past three days seemed so completely out of sync with the people, their choric chants, laughter and the embedded excitement of the world's biggest sporting event being upon us.

A television channel has set up stage near the Rathaus (Munich Town Hall) where it was difficult to find people not wearing team shirts. From the three different versions of the German jersey to Mexico, Australia and, of course, Costa Rica.

Faces painted and different hairstyles united by the colours of the Nationalmannschaf, people moved around. Cars traveled like they would on any working day, the only difference being that most of them had little German flags stuck to their rear windows.

Some fans sang Schwarz und Weiss (Black and White), a song Oliver Pocher, Germany's most famous comedian, had taken to the top of the charts. It is a fan song, which tells the National team that we are by your side and together we will win the World Cup.

Others, in Mexican shirts, chorused 'we are here' even though the Central American giants kick-off in Nuremburg two days from now.

It was the same at the Marienplatz subway station and on the packed train to Froetmanning where sits the Arena glistening in the brilliant morning sun which finally made an appearance.

Even the gods, it seems have taken note of the World Cup. Queues to the 52,000-seater stadium in Munich's northern suburb started forming five hours before kick-off.

Unlike in India and its archaic stadia, football in Europe is more than just a 90-minute game. It is daylong entertainment programme where participation levels are huge.

An exhibition of football Close to the Rathaus is the Munich Stadtmuseum, an old-world structure and a repository of history.

A wing on the second floor is hosting a superb exhibition called Football: One Game - Many Worlds. It is a wonderful rundown on the game and how it is a reflection of the society where it is played.

Done through photographs, flags and exhibits collected from all over the world, it talks about how National characteristics become 'sharper, more firmly established and better known' through a country's football team. Like 'Scotland is England plus X' and that the 'German team never gives up.'

With a giant screen showing glorious moments of the World Cup and match commentary over the public address system that encapsulates the passion for the game, a la South America, the exhibition begins with the story of the evolution of the women's game.

There are pictures of German star Birgit Prinz, thrice winner of the FIFA Player of the Year, and USA's Brandi Chastain celebrating her goal against China in the 1999 World Cup in only her sports bra, arms raised and jersey in hand.

A book by Chastain titled 'It's not about the bra' is placed next to the photograph that caused quite a stir about skin show long before Sepp Blatter said women's football should be sexed up.

There is a picture of Carlonine Joensson, voted Sports Personality of the Year in the land of Freddie Ljungberg and Henrik Larsson and on whom the Swedish government released a stamp to mark the centenary of their football federation.

Next to Joensson is Iranian Fahimeh Zaraei trying to break through a defensive maze, playing in full pants, her head covered by a scarf. Stories of how football fosters a sense of belonging in Indonesia are told through pictures of men and boys playing in loincloth.

A football field on the roof of a three-storey building in Tokyo connects with the frame of a goal post drawn on bullet-riddled wall in Angola where a kid shapes up to save a right-footer.

The story of how football was used as a cover-up of the genocide in Dresden is said and that of a boy in a Colombian refugee camp called Klinsman, the name given by a football-fanatic uncle.

You can hear songs from Roger Milla, a song on Thierry Henry and one by Errol Blackwood called Reggae Boyz not far from the poster of Bob Marley with a ball on his right foot.

You can see a Mexican paper ball, a Cameroonian 'plastic bag ball' and even the +Teamgeist that will be used in this World Cup.

The only exhibit from India is a poster highlighting the virtues of an Adarsh Balak. Among his virtues is playing football. Given that we are playing the sport for over 100 years, we could have had more to offer but perhaps it is also an indication of how much we are out of the loop.