December 10, 2010

Ice football

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I returned to the An der Alten Försterei stadion on Monday, intrigued by the fans contestation of the SkyTV-induced Monday schedules, and by the experience of football as a winter sport. The weather has been near-polar for a few days, and last Thursday, just across the border, on a white pitch and with -16C Lech Poznan eliminated Juventus from the Europa League (two cheers, one for Poznan, where I went on my first student exchange in 1989, and one for the detested Vecchia Signora).

Winter prevailed and most fans protested by staying home. Only 10,898 other people were as mad as me. The temperature touched -9 and I appreciated, again, the standing stalls: they allow fans to adopt the penguins surviving strategy (see "March of the Penguins"), forming a thick crowd to mutually protect from the freezing wind, with a slow circular movement whereby fans at the outer margins rotate slowly, as they periodically go to refill their glasses with Glühwein (another great thing of German stadions). The match was horrible, FC Union lost, but still the athmosphere in this stadion is better than at the Olympiastadion, where the huge size and empty spaces, the distance from the pitch (it's a stadion for atheltics, not football), and the rightwing Hertha supporters made it cold even without winter.

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