EURO2008 City Scenes: Turkey’s ‘Miracle’, the Dutch Determination and Austria’s Farewell

17 06 2008

Photo: Turkish Fans: Disappointment followed euphoria after a breathtaking finish against Czech Republic, ending 3:2 on June 15 in Geneva.

Although Turkey played so far only in Switzerland, the Turkish community in Vienna certainly followed with great excitement the games. I live in Vienna’s 10th district, Favoriten, which has a more substantial Turkish minority: Of the approx. 170,000 inhabitants here – this is Vienna’s most-populated district – 3.9 % are Turkish (the foreign citizens are overall about 20% here).

So, for most of the match on June 15, the Czech Republic clearly led the game and goals, 2:0, and so when I left my apartment at about 10.00 pm, I was sure that this won’t change. I began to realize that I possibly lose another prediction – I was betting that Turkey would reach the quarter-finale.

The world was a quite a different one 30 to 40 minutes later: I took a short walk around Stephansplatz when I made my way back down to the underground U 1, where the security staff received their final orders: “The match just finished – we stay here in the station. That are our orders,” their supervisor instructed the 5 somewhat youngish men, wearing yellow security vests. I was confused: Was there a match in Vienna that night? No. But then the result of the match Turkey vs. Czech Republic appeared on the TV monitors showed the final result – where did those three goals come from?

It was only the game Netherlands vs. France that I also ‘missed’ three goals as I made my way home that evening. But in the latter game, held in Bern, Switzerland, on June 14, the Netherlands clearly led 2:0 and their performance on the pitch left no doubt about their skill and determination to win. Rarely has a game been that exciting to watch.

But shortly after 10.00 pm I made my way home, traveling – yet again, I am sorry if you get tired of hearing it – on the underground U1 home when at about 10.30 pm, just having reached Stephansplatz, the train took an unusual long break, and suddenly, the current situation of the ongoing match were announced in German: The Netherlands still lead decisively by now 3:1. In cooperation with ORF Radio Wien, the regional radio station, the Wiener Linien offered this “special broadcast service”.

However, what’s the value of a purely German language information when the majority of guests and fans does not understand nor speak that language? In any case, reaching home just before 11.00 pm, I did even see the final 4th goal of the Netherlands, scored by Wesley Sneijder. What a team! My favorites to win this championship.

In any case, returning to the crucial game of Group A on June 15, I reached my station, Keplerplatz, and as I exit the underground, there is confirmation on the street of Turkey‘s victory: Kids running in full excitement with Turkish flags from side streets onto the pedestrianized Favoritenstrasse. Care driving around in high-speed and loud Turkish music appear suddenly and the cheering comes even across that noise. No doubt about it: It was party time for Turkey, as it took them only the last 15 minutes of the game to perform the ‘Miracle of Geneva’ and exposed their opponent. But further west in the city, in the 16th district, Ottakring, a few thousand Turkish fans celebrated with music, fireworks and a choir of car horns into the early hours of the morning. A miracle finally happened…

Austria already had its miracle decades ago, the famous ‘Miracle of Córdoba’ 1978, in which Hans Krankl scored the third and decisive goal for Austria against Germany: Austria won that game 3:2 and that success needs to be repeated as the ‘Miracle of Vienna 2008. The free tabloid press knew to exploit the imagery by calling tonight’s event ‘Cordoba II’ (Heute) or, more rudely and distasteful, ‘Zieht den Deutschen die Hose aus‘ (Pull the Germans the pants down) on the cover page of Österreich.

But all the scaremongering, the cheering for the home team did not help. Austria does not play in the same league as Germany – at least not right now – and that was evident after tonight’s game. But is was the highlight game of this championship – from an Austrian perspective. Not only could it have been possible to reach the quarter-finale. Austria could – remember Córdoba – potentially have sent Germany home.

The game was held – as all games involving Austria – at the Ernst-Happel-Stadium. So, by 8.20 pm, when I made my way into the city center, the Wiener Linien announced over the loudspeaker that the main Fanmeile on the Wiener Ringstrasse was absolutely packed full – just about 72,000 fans gathered here to enjoy the game, watching it over large screens with a beer or two. Other zones, the voice said, had still space, and it’s strongly recommended to reroute.

When we reached Praterstern, everything seemed quiet, only two Austrian…, sorry, Polish teenage girls entered the train, wrapped in their scarfs and giggling. A few stops later, when they got off at Karlsplatz, a noisy Austrian crowed entered the train singing, wearing Austria flags wrapped around their bodies. I also get off and take a walk on the Kärtnerstrasse, which is very quiet.

The city has a strange tense atmosphere, but overall the mood is good on both sides; everyone is confident to win. I sit down at the Café Europa outside, enjoying the sunset and the warm atmosphere. But soon as the second half opened, Germany scored. That was it, I thought. And 40 minutes it was confirmed: Austria lost 0:1 against Germany.

There was no ‘miracle’ and no surprise either. Austria has held onto the game better than I expected, but they did not meet my expectations of an equalizer. At least, I say to myself, I won that bet. And when I make my way home, well before the game finished, I was not the only one, as numerous Austria supporters left too. “Piss off, Piefkes,” I can hear every now and then, shouted angrily at Germany supporters, but the provocation is ignored.

N.B.: The tabloid Heute printed the first verse of the Austrian Anthem on the front page – so all ‘patriots’ could sing along, while their team ‘played for all our honors.’ At least we will remember that for the next time…




4 responses

17 06 2008

“While most of the players kept their cool during the tense occasion, the same could not be said for coaches Low and Josef Hickersberger who were sent to the stands shortly before the break by referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez for what appeared to be an ongoing spat with the fourth official.”

17 06 2008
Matthias Wurz

Thank you for the comment!
Yes, I noticed that, and it seems that the Trainers did not ‘behave’ – unlike the fans, of which 200,000 were in Vienna last night.

Maybe the strong police presence of about 3,800 helped in that situation: only about 20 Austria fans were arrested, and the Germany fans stayed calm!


19 06 2008
Two Dishes

I surfed to here from the Wikipedia entry “Miracle of Geneva”!
Nice reportage here from you. Sorry you missed the three goals!
I have to watch it here in Brooklyn at work, while my boss is not watching.
(I am a school teacher and it is final exams time.)

19 06 2008
Matthias Wurz

Thank you very much for your comment! I also regret having missed the three goals – the Turkish and the Dutch/French ones as well. I seem to miss the most interesting developments, but then again I have become a football enthusiast, but not a fan as such. So, it was a great surprise this morning that this story here has become reference material for a Wikipedia entry!

Writing these scenes, as you might have seen some of the others, has made me interested in this sport. In the next days I shall be writing about me and why writing about football. But first thee are stories for our paper that need to be finished!

I hope you enjoy reading this blog!


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