“Tor!!!!” I jump up, throw my arms into the air and yell at the top of my lungs. “Toooor!!!!!!”. Mario Götze has just ended my earthly sufferings, 1:0 to Germany, maximum heart rate, then the match is over, Germany is World Champion, I come to my senses, sit down, what is wrong with me??!! Twenty-four years ago – how time flies – I quietly watched the German team win, with inner distance and reluctance. World Champions and reunification: there was too much nationalTaumel and too much German complacency.
The 1990 re-election of heavyweight Helmut Kohl was widely attributed to Germany’s victory in that year’s World Cup. There has been a lot of noise in the media recently that Rousseff’s chances of re-election have been damaged due to Brazil’s humiliating exit from the contest. And what of Angela?
As Dylan famously intoned, the times they are a-changing. The country has changed, and die Mannschaft is the face of that change. These stars are from Bavarian, Ghanian, Polish, Tunisian and Turkish backgrounds, and more. In tardy recognition of this mosaic, the Bundestag is voting to allow its citizens hold dual nationality.
These stars left their stardom and egos in the changing room to merge into one team. One could almost smell the team spirit – or should that be the teenspirit? Götze, 22, and most of his 22 teammates seem to have just left school, they have tidy haircuts, they are polite (Kramer sends his best wishes to his grandma after the match), they seem well-brought-up and genuinely nice.
Hold on! Nice Germans? Where is the German bulldozer, the ugly German, where are the towels on the sunloungers? It seems the national personality has changed somewhat, and football does reflect politics in this. Joachim Löw and Angela Merkel are both pretty unexciting characters and understated in their gestures and comportment. Neither was really on any trainer’s line-up – rather substitutes on the bench – but both took their opportunities. The assistant trainer started to build his Mannschaft 10 years ago, Kohl’s Mädchen took over nine years ago to shape this Germany and steer it through the crisis. Country and team emerged strong, efficient, professional, polite and nice, if perhaps just a little dull.
Polls show that Germans currently feel very content with their lives. And while the feelgood factor of a World Cup victory never hurts, unlike Kohl all those years ago or perhaps Rousseff today, Angela Merkel does not need reflected glory of the World Cup to maintain her popularity.
Kerstin Duhme, a happy German, is Managing Director at FTI Consulting Brussels.