U.S. a Lonely Place for Soccer Fans

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Germany faces Spain in the finals of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament in Vienna on Sunday. Eric Goetz of Lebanon, N.H., talks about what it's like living in a soccer-indifferent country during this tournament.


Okay. Let's say you're a baseball fan. It's the World Series; your team made it in, but you find yourself stuck in Paris or someplace like that. What do you do? Well, you probably hit a sports bar that caters to Americans. That's what these soccer fans who found themselves stuck in the United States did this week for the European championships.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SEABROOK: This was the scene at Washington, D.C.'s Lucky Bar this past week. Fans were watching Germany and Spain advance to the finals of the Euro 2008 tournament. They'll play tomorrow afternoon for the championship. And we discovered D.C. has its fair share of German fans.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SEABROOK: And Spanish fans.

(Soundbite of cheering)

SEABROOK: Gustal Aligrette(ph) is from Barcelona. He ducked out of work to attend the 2:45 p.m. kickoff.

Mr. GUSTAL ALIGRETTE (Soccer Fan): Now it's time to stay in the office but I'm here. And in Spain (unintelligible) all around the country. A lot of people is going to be in the streets celebrating. That kind of celebration is the same here and in Spain. More or less with friends (unintelligible).

SEABROOK: But what about places in this country where there are no neighborhood soccer bars? Say, Lebanon, New Hampshire. That's where Eric Goetz lives. He's German, he's a huge soccer fan and he joins me on the line now. Hi there.

Mr. ERIC GOETZ (Soccer Fan): Hi, Andrea. How are you doing?

SEABROOK: Good. So, have you been watching?

Mr. GOETZ: I've been watching some but, you know, just because of the time difference I'm usually at work. So the other day, you know, I'm German, so I'm really into my team and I was following the quarterfinal match when they were playing Portugal and I was on a teleconference but I was, you know, following the game on the Internet...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOETZ: So, I really having trouble concentrating on what I was saying and, you know, not shouting out, like, with excitement every time Germany scored. The hardest part about all this is kind of, you know, not being able to share my own excitement. You know, we've reached the final of this major tournament and I tried to engage people in conversation. People are very polite and, you know, try to humor me. And they're like is that on now? Is that a big thing?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOETZ: Are you talking about football or soccer? You know, most people don't really know what the hell I'm talking about.

SEABROOK: So, where are you from in Germany?

Mr. GOETZ: I'm from Cologne.

SEABROOK: Cologne. And what is it like there during one of these games?

Mr. GOETZ: Oh, it's crazy. I mean, the whole continent really shuts down during these tournaments. They're a really big deal and I think, you know, folks over here don't really understand that.

SEABROOK: Not just Germany shuts downs, the whole continent of Europe you're saying.

Mr. GOETZ: Absolutely, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: So, what are you going to be doing tomorrow during the game?

Mr. GOETZ: Well, I don't really know for sure yet. I was thinking of maybe driving down to Boston and watching it with a German friend of mine.

SEABROOK: How far is Boston?

Mr. GOETZ: It's about a two-hour drive.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: Oh, what you'll do for that atmosphere, huh?

Mr. GOETZ: Hey, these tournaments come around, you know, every four years. It's a really big deal for us. Got to run with it.

SEABROOK: Eric Goetz is a German soccer fan stuck in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He'll be watching Germany take on Spain in the finals of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament tomorrow afternoon. Good luck.

Mr. GOETZ: Thanks very much.

SEABROOK: And remember those crazy soccer fans back in the Washington, D.C. bar? Well, we learned that like soccer fans everywhere, if you grease their throats enough, they'll even cheer for NPR.

(Soundbite of cheering)


(Soundbite of cheering)

SEABROOK: …news.

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