Ambassador gracious in Spanish defeat

Ambassador gracious in Spanish defeat
Photo: Emy Gelb
Germany's Ambassador to Sweden, Joachim Rucker, said after watching "Die Mannschaft" exit the World Cup at the Goethe-Institut in Stockholm with his countrymen - and a sole exalted Spanish family.

“We’re disappointed, but such is life,” Rucker told The Local after the whistle blew on Germany’s World Cup campaign, losing 1-0 to Spain.

The German cultural centre hosted a viewing party for the semifinal hoping to celebrate Germany’s place in the final for a record eighth time, but the European champions proved a hurdle too far – much to the amusement of the young Spanish family in attendance, hidden in a sea of red, black and gold.

The Grijalba family, who were in Stockholm for a wedding, had been hoping to watch the game at the Cervantes Institute language centre, located in the same building, but found their way to the Goethe-Institut instead.

For eight-year-old Lere Grijalba, delighted to watch the game amongst Stockholm’s German fans and experiencing her first World Cup, the moment was unforgettable.

“It’s my first World Cup and I am so excited,” the young girl said, giggling with joy as the final whistle blew.

The Goethe-Institut auditorium was at full capacity, packed with German students, expats and even the ambassador. Fans of all ages sat in neat rows, donning face paint, jerseys and flags to proudly show their support for the highly-fancied national team.

At the start of the game, the room filled with a nervous, upbeat energy. Some were quietly glued to the screen; others started cheers and chants with hoping perhaps that their team would hear them.

Even as the first half dragged on without a goal, the crowd’s energy did not subside. After every German attack, the colorful crowd exploded in a chorus of “Deutschland!” A bright black, gold, and red vuvuzela honked occasionally, breaking the anxious atmosphere with hearty and good-spirited laughter.

At half-time, the crowd shuffled out to refill their glasses with chilled German beer and analyze the finer points of the game. A few nervous fans sneaked outside to share a cigarette and a breath of fresh air.

“So far, I am not so impressed, a little disappointed,” remarked Mikeala, a 25-year-old student from Germany, wearing face paint and clutching her vuvuzela. “But they are getting better, it’s close to a goal.”

She added that Paul, the psychic octopus who wrongly predicted a German win at Euro 2008, has picked Spain to win on Wednesday evening.

“Obviously, he will be wrong again. Germany will win tonight,” she mused.

As the second half resumed, the German spirits were still high. Throughout the auditorium, clinking bottles and national chants animated the room. The score remained goalless, but with the Germans holding the title of highest scoring team in the tournament, the fans did not look worried.

However, it was Spain who broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, met with a unison groan from the crowd, a demonstrative hanging of heads, and some stomping of feet in disappointment.

An anguished silence followed, broken only by the handful of stray Spanish fans who celebrated lightheartedly in the corner. Despite the setback, the German fans remained upbeat through to the final whistle with the vuvuzela helping to keep the atmosphere jovial.

Once Spanish victory was declared, the upbeat atmosphere quickly shifted. A few fans applauded lightly in good sportsmanship, but most dragged themselves out of the auditorium looking glum and defeated.

Ambassador Rucker was, however, calm, gracious and, well, diplomatic, in defeat.

“The Spaniards were better, it was deserved. We played elegantly, but we were out of luck…such is life,” he said.

Emy Gelb

Check out The Local’s World Cup gallery here.

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