World Cup draw | Hard times for ‘Jünter the Foal’

Among the thousand-some record covers src='http://www.theglobalgame.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-mobile-pack/plugins/wpmp_transcoder/c/04a77bf0d88f4c57b6808f54e863853b' vspace=Leipzig, Germany | The city of Felix Mendelssohn, Johann Sebastian Bach and, for a time, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe hosts the World Cup draw on Friday, and locals are getting in the swing. Supermodel Heidi Klum has been pictured during screen tests in advance of the Ping Pong–ball plucking that will occur. Two days of rehearsal are planned. Klum will be the public face of the draw, taking attention from some of the more withered specimens in the FIFA delegation. The top eight seeds and other “pots,” from which the teams will be ritualistically selected, were named Tuesday, to which we have one reaction: Spain?

Nevertheless, the public-relations machinery has cranked into gear. The hacks at FIFAworldcup.com described the coordinator of the World Cup’s cultural program, Andre Heller, as “visibly buzzing with euphoria” on announcing the creative team for the 7 June 2006 opening ceremony: Philippe Decoufle, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, et al. The Financial Times takes the wider, more sobering view of the €30 million invested in the ancillary cultural menu. The paper quotes officials who see the extended selection of literary festivals, readings, opera, ballet, public spectacle and art as image management for a country, according to a woman in the foreign ministry, that suffers in perception. Non-Germans “lack an emotional link to our country,” says Sonja Kreibich, “as the focus is on business, ‘Made in Germany,’ and so on.” The stereotype of German efficiency, to the cost of the “human dimension,” is often uttered, including by Klum in her FIFA interview.

Kasey Keller, the American goalkeeper for Bundesliga team Borussia Moenchengladbach, tells Soccer America that he has seen the lighter side. Supporters have appreciated his antics outside the goalmouth. Keller once let team mascot Jí¼nter the Foal drink out of his water bottle, but later threw Jí¼nter to the ground. “I was just going to tackle him, and then I picked him up and he was really light, so I carried him over to the crowd and slammed him. It was funny.”

Notified by German football monthly 11 Freunde, we have been getting in the spirit of the Leipzig draw by listening to the around-the-clock stream of football songs compiled by FC45.de. We listened for a few hours earlier today and heard only one song repeated. Site authors Trevor Wilson and Michael Schäumer have compiled more than 1,900 recordings, some ripped from old vinyl, and established a taxonomy of the genre, grouping them into club songs, songs about national teams, songs sung by footballers, commentary, stories and “curiosities.” During our listening, it seemed that many of the tunes, a sizeable percentage of which come from Germany, carried an identical “oompah” sensibility and shared session musicians. But there was variety, too: gratuitous guitar riffs, satire and even an occasional banjo. We got a yuk from Bell and Spurling’s “Sven, Sven, Sven,” so not a total loss.

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