Joe Hlavaty is an Eight Hours and Change adviser. He recently visited Augsburg on our spring Bavaria College Visit, during which he attended a game between FC Augsburg and FC Cologne. In today's piece for the EHC Blog, he writes about his first German soccer game.
On our last college tour through Bavaria, I experienced something long-overdue: attending my first German soccer game. Now, I will preface this by saying that I am a fairly seasoned sports fan, attending at least one Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears game a year. I am also an avid fan of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, and I tend to go to at least a couple games when I’m in the area. I also have been to an Italian soccer game that involved clubs from Florence and Rome. So I am a “credible source” for what I am about to say…
Never before have I experienced such a unified group as the fans at this game. This was not some intense match between Bayern München and BVB Dortmund. No, this was FC Köln (Cologne) and FC Augsburg. Not exactly the match of the century. I will be blunt…game was not much to write home about. It ended up 0-0, which is usually how many Americans imagine soccer games ending up.
But I have to give it up to the Augsburg fans. The stadium was jam-packed, so much so that we were fifteen minutes late getting to our seats, solely because security was overwhelmed by the turn out. The fans were united in their chants, praising their players, and recognizing them for their efforts. For example, at a Bears game, when Jay Cutler overthrows his receiver, you usually hear your fair share of boos and insults. But when the players great a chance to score that doesn’t work out, the fans still are on their feet shouting words of encouragement. It is really nuts. Of course you still have the insults, especially towards the refs, but they are so unconditionally supportive of their team, no matter how low in the standings they are, it’s beautiful.
I would gladly go to another game, in Augsburg or anywhere in this country, because it was such an enjoyable experience. Next time you’re on this side of the pond, make sure you take the time to see one!