As host of the 2006 soccer World Cup in June and July 2006, Germany was suddenly full of different Germans, waving millions of black-red-gold mini flags and wearing their (and others') national colors with abandon. Was this show of nationalism a new kind of trans/national patriotism? Most certainly, the national enthusiasm exhibited in Germany had nothing whatsoever to do with past demonstrations of patriotism. With the focus on the country as host to world soccer aficionados, the world also learned of a multicultural Germany that has existed for the last fifty years or so. It learned that it is not always successful with its social and economic problems, and that the desire for national unity is sometimes difficult to fulfill. Quite correctly, the national media described Germany as joyous, generous, and open-minded hosts. In the foreign press, too, the old stereotypes were broken down.
During the course of the 2006 Soccer World Cup, Germans started to celebrate a “new patriotism.” As the construction of national identity is inseparable in Germany from the Nazi past, this occurrence can be considered an indicator of an altered relationship to this past. This article examines these changes by focusing on a nationally recognized site of remembrance, the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, where five matches of the World Cup were played. The convergence of site and event evokes contradictions and ambiguities, such as the encounter of the opposed needs of sports and remembrance at the same location. It shows what problems arise at a site of national collective memory today, when the role of the national collective is challenged by developments like European integration, migration within and to Europe, and the on-going effects of globalization.
The sporting news1 that received the most media attention in the summer
of 2006 was not the Italian victory at the World Cup but rather the
Calciopoli scandal2 that shook the world of calcio (soccer). A distinctive
characteristic of the scandal was that it involved principally the
major clubs, in particular, Juventus, the richest and most successful
club in Italian soccer. Although not the first crisis in its history, it was
undoubtedly treated as one of the most serious catastrophes ever
recorded in Italian soccer, portending the end of the credibility and
sustainability of a model of business that, with its rules and its system
of consolidated relations among its main actors, had until then characterized
Italian professional soccer.