Unique Soccer Experience: FC Bayern – Stern des Südens

Wednesday, August 5, 2015, was a day marked with anticipation and excitement among the Munich Summer Curriculum students. In our first meeting in June – even prior to attending our first class – we purchased Audi Cup 2015 tickets with the hope to see a glimpse of the German soccer (oops, I mean fußball) culture.

This obviously meant that Bridget and I had to shop for our fan wear in order to try and fit in with the Bayern Munich diehard fans. The evening before the game was spent wandering Karlsplatz and Marienplatz for jerseys and scarves! For a relatively inexpensive price, I bought more Bayern Munich attire than I have of my favorite sports teams back home. But, I accomplished my goal: when decked out in my new scarf and striped jersey, I could now fool anyone and tell them that I have been a lifelong fan. I think we may have even fooled our co-workers and supervisors at Lucy Turpin Communications. On Wednesday afternoon, Bridget and I changed into our jerseys and displayed our FC Bayern paraphernalia to the LTC staff. It was quite the spectacle to parade around the desks as Eva played the Stern des Südens, what we Americans would call Bayern Munich’s “fight song”.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the Audi Cup. I figured it would probably be similar to an American football game, in a large stadium with lots of beer and bratwurst. I figured there would be a few wild fans, and a few stadium-wide chants every now-and-then. My expectations were shattered by reality.

Reality began on the U-bahn, where we squeezed into a tram with more people than I had seen in Munich for the past two months. After a sweaty ride from Universität to Fröttmaning, we joined the sea of red and blue that noisily approached the Allianz Arena. When I saw the stadium for the first time, I think my jaw dropped. Allianz Arena puts all of Cincinnati’s sports facilities to shame, with its beautiful glass exterior, LED lighting at night, and it’s sheer size.

I felt as if I was a kid again, walking through Disney World. Every place I looked, I was mesmerized with the exhilaration of the Audi Cup. But the festivities were only just beginning; they continued after we climbed the stairs to section 344 and finally sat in our seats. First off, it’s very rare for a sports team in the U.S. to provide flags and noisemakers for its attendees. However, the Audi Cup 2015 flags and noisemakers were a nice touch, especially to those MSC students who didn’t have a scarf to wave or a jersey to wear. Next, the introduction of the teams with the dance team, drum line, and multiple banners and flags was a definite highlight of the night. Afterward, the Tottingham versus Milan kickoff commenced the fight for 3rd place in the tournament.

With a helles beer and a rote bratwurst in our hands, we cheered for a large majority of the Tottingham versus Milan game. I cheered obnoxiously for both teams, getting anxious any time that a goal or beautiful play was in sight. Within the ninety minutes of intensity and well-played soccer, Tottingham fought hard for a win of 2-0.

The real excitement was the Audi Cup 2015 championship match: Real Madrid vs. FC Bayern Munich. The game was an unforgettable highlight of my time in München: the ninety minutes were filled with beautiful fußball by the players, audible adrenaline from the fans, an innumerable amount of chants, crowd waves doing laps around the stadium, and slaps from the noisemakers! At halftime, the score was still 0-0, and so I had to grab some pommes frites to nervously munch in anticipation for a goal from FC Bayern. The 88th minute brought what the majority of attendees were hoping for: a goal by FC Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski! On a free kick, the ball soared over an opposing player, giving Lewandowski a perfect touch into the net. The celebration was wild, with more than 75,000 fans in red and blue chanting Stern des Südens, all while waving flags, jumping up and down, and yelling at the top of their lungs!

The celebrations of Lewandowski’s goal were accompanied with the announcer’s call and response.

“FC Bayern Munich?” he asked.

The crowd responded unanimously with “Eins (one)!”

“Real Madrid?”

“Null (zero).”

“DANKE (thank you)!”

“BITTE (you’re welcome)!”

It was something I had never witnessed at a sports game; as a result, it was quite comical to my classmates and me. When the final buzzer sounded after two minutes of stoppage time, the entire stadium was back on its feet celebrating Bayern’s win with more music, waving flags, and chanting. And even though this was my first Bayern Munich game, it felt as if we, each of the 75,000+ fans in the stadium, accomplished the title of Audi Cup 2015 Champions.

How amazing it is to feel a part of a culture so different than your own, but I guess that’s why I’m in Germany. That’s what studying abroad can do for you. It truly does open your eyes to a world outside of the one in which you live; every time you fully live in those moments – you experience something extraordinary and unforgettable – on August 5th, 2015, it happened to be FC Bayern Munich fußball.

Nathan Garbig