Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Joyful Germans raise steins
World Cup victory sparks big bash here
The stakes were as high as they could get. A win meant the party would go all night. A loss would sour the whole day for everybody.
The German Society of Winnipeg was packed on Sunday as people gathered to watch the final showdown between Germany and Argentina at the 2014 FIFA soccer World Cup. Though doors at the society on Charles Street officially opened at 1 p.m., those inside said people were already being turned away at that point, because the hall was full.
The crowd, a sea of black, red and gold, as well as the white of the German soccer jersey, cheered non-stop during the game. Every small event -- from a yellow card to a foul -- was greeted with a reaction loud enough someone who wasn't paying attention might have thought a goal had been scored.
Many of those watching were either immigrants from Germany or of German descent. Heinz Petsch, president of the society, wasn't surprised by the size, or the ferocity, of the crowd.
"It's soccer. You know Germany is one big soccer fan club," he said.
The first 90 minutes of the game were scoreless, which meant everybody was tense going into extra time.
Patrick Nickel, who came from Germany to Winnipeg in 1993, said the outcome of the game would decide how the rest of his day went.
"I'm very nervous. (If Germany wins), I will be celebrating more than I've celebrated in a long time. (If Germany loses), what am I celebrating? I don't think I'll have a party," Nickel said.
Nickel would have to wait until minute 113, well into extra time, when German attacking midfielder Mario Goetze scored what would become the winning goal. When the ball hit the net, the local gathering erupted into cheers, and the screen that had captivated them for the last 100 minutes became forgotten as people hugged, danced and started crying.
Jurgen Launer started the Winnipeg Bayern Munich fan club years back and watched Germany win in 1990. The moment Germany scored, he said, is still surreal in his mind.
"It still hasn't sunk in. It's incredible... if they had lost today, I would have been very sad. Not for me, but for the boys (on the team)," Launer said in German.
The game also brought out a lot of national pride in those with German connections.
Joseph Eberhard, who moved from Germany with his family five years ago, said Germans in the Winnipeg community don't get many chances to show their national pride, which made the game that much more special for him.
"It's incredible. Usually we don't celebrate ourselves like this, like today, where every German is waving their flag," Eberhard said in German.
And though things could have gone very differently, Eberhard said that's all forgotten. What matters now is the win, he said.
"Today the German team will be celebrated, until the crack of dawn," he said.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2014 A3
Updated on Monday, July 14, 2014 at 6:55 AM CDT: Replaces photo
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