Germany and Soccer (Fußball)
Germany: The EM and the WM
König Fußball - “King Soccer”
WM 2002: Brasilien 2, Deutschland 0
Also see: Germany Hosts the 2006 World Cup
Germany will play host to the World Cup in 2006. After the big Finale in 2002, Germany's Miroslav Klose was no longer tied with the Brazilian players Rivaldo and Ronaldo for top scorer in the World Cup (abbreviated WM in German). Brazil zipped the Germans 2-0 with two goals in the last part of the game, und Ronaldo ist Torschützenkönig der 17. Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft. Ronaldo became the "scoring king" of the 17th World Cup, tying another Brazilian champ, Pelé, with a career total of 12 World Cup goals. (The German Gerd Müller holds the overall record, with 14 WM goals.)
The earlier Team USA win over Mexico finally drew Americans' attention to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. The 2002 games, showing late at night or in the early morning hours on U.S. TV screens, caused American soccer fans to lose sleep. But the 1-0 loss to Germany in a hard-fought match ended American hopes of repeating or bettering 1930, when the USA placed third. England's loss to Brazil (1-2) sent the Brits home, leaving four teams going into the semifinals: Brazil, Germany, South Korea, and Turkey.
If the names Maradona, Pelé or Beckenbauer don't ring a bell, you may be the typical American who doesn't follow the world's biggest and most popular sport. Soccer, the game known as football (Fußball) everywhere but in North America, has become increasingly popular in the United States over the last few decades, but it still doesn't even come close to the spot that König Fußball (king football) holds in the hearts of German sports fans.
Soccer's aptly named World Cup has been held every four years since 1930 (except during WWII). Unlike the baseball World Series, this giant sports competition is truly global. In a huge process of elimination, 170 national football teams are reduced to 32 for the games known as the Weltmeisterschaft (WM) or Weltpokal in German, the Mondial/Coupe de Monde in French, or the Copa Mundial in Spanish.
But where did the game that Americans call soccer begin? Although soccer-like games were played in the ancient world, most historians agree that the home of modern soccer is Britain. From there, football spread across Europe and eventually around the world. The Pilgrims brought an early form of the game to North America. In the 1870s, the game officially divided into two main types, rugby and soccer (from association football), each with its own rules. American football is actually a revised form of rugby. Soccer reached its peak in the 1920s in North America, where it had long been a favorite of various immigrant groups. But it never reached the popularity of the big two homegrown sports, baseball and football, each adapted from European sources.
No one would have predicted the USA playing Germany in the quarterfinals of soccer's biggest event, but the U.S. loss to Germany on June 21 ended a strong run by Team USA. Starting with the early elimination of soccer superpowers France and Argentina, the 2002 World Cup offered surprise after surprise. One of the biggest came on June 17 in South Korea, when the U.S. team blanked Mexico 2-0, setting up the Germany-USA match. Before that, England had rolled over Denmark 3-0 and Germany had defeated Paraguay 1-0 (scoring in the 88th minute of the game). Although that win was the sixth straight time Germany has entered the World Cup quarterfinals (das Viertelfinale), the USA had done that only once before (in the very first World Cup).
A German computer
The Germany-USA match certainly attracted a lot of Americans to a sport they generally tend to ignore. Despite the loss, Team USA made the Germans fight hard to stay in the running. After the Germany-Brazil playoff, there were many more Americans and others who recognized the names of German players such as Miroslav Klose (a leading WM scorer) or goalkeeper Oliver (Olli) Kahn.
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