Kris Fernandes is a FIFA accredited freelance writer based in Toronto. He has been actively involved in spreading the love of the beautiful game in Canada and abroad for several years through administration, media coverage and coaching. He also covered the 2006 FIFA World Cup live for CBCSports.ca with the popular journal series, "A Canadian in Germany". Contact Kris at firstname.lastname@example.org
BASEL, SWITZERLAND — The train from Vienna to Basel has been delayed significantly all week.
On the day of the first semifinal, it was scheduled to arrive at 4:30 p.m. and instead got in at 6:45, which was only two hours from kickoff of the Germany-Turkey game.
I was blown away at the number of people wearing makeshift signs reading "Suchen Karten" or "I buy tickets". Everybody was dying to see this game since the Turks miraculously defeated Croatia in thrilling fashion in the quarter-finals; problem is only 40,000 tickets exist and the asking price two hours before kickoff was $600.
Luckily I had done some smart wheeling and dealing before the tournament and ended up scoring a pair at cost.
This match was the subject of discussion everywhere you go in both Euro 2008 host nations and it seemed as if people had forgotten about the second semi. Media had been reporting that over 30,000 Germans, mostly from Bavaria, travelled to Basel for the game and once you looked out into the city, it seemed as if it was double that. The black, red, and gold flags and hats were in abundance and I didn't see a single German fan not wearing a white home jersey. This was definitely a home game for them.
It was a gruelling ordeal to get to the stadium, as people just rammed into the trams without regard for safety or capacity. The march down the main alley was still mostly comprised of Germans as they passed by dozens of scarf vendors and kids that sold sandwiches for a few bucks.
Tickets outside of the stadium dipped to around $500 each and there were many dejected fans pondering where to watch the match. I have seen one Mexican guy named Jorge outside of a few games holding up a sign that reads, "For the love of football please give me a free ticket." He said it has actually worked for four matches. Who would've thought? I doubt that it worked for this match, though.
The stadium seats vibrated throughout the match as everyone sang their hearts out. The dominant chant of the night was the catchy, "Super Deutschland ole ole."
The Turkish fans went absolutely wild when a fan (I swear it looked like the notorious diehard Fenerbahce supporter nicknamed Rambo) ran onto the pitch. The only louder ovation came when they tied it up 2-2 late in regulation time. The Turkish fans beside me leapt out of their seats and nearly tumbled down the aisle.
When Philip Lahm scored the last-minute winner it got so intense I felt as if the stadium was going to collapse, shivers rippled down my spine — I live for that feeling.
You couldn't even move in the main streets during the after party, which lasted until 7 a.m. I feel for the Turks, but more for those who had to clean up the thousands of beer cans and cups that covered the roads.