Home Country vs Host Country: Expat Problems During the World Cup

With the World Cup in full swing, there is one question that people now ask me quite regularly:

Will you root for your home country or your host country?

My home country is the U.S. My host country is Germany. So, when this question is asked, the American patriot in me wants to blurt out, “USA! USA! USA!” At the same time, however, the practical German in me would rather mumble, “Germany,” after objectively looking at the odds. Due to the way the World Cup is structured, however, I probably won’t have to make this decision for quite a while.For those that do not know much about the World Cup, here is how it works:

The 32 teams that have qualified to play are separated into eight groups of four teams each. Every team then plays one game against each of the others in their group. The two best teams from each group get to move on to the next round, where the competition becomes a single elimination bracket for the top 16 teams.

The thing is, both the U.S. and Germany are starting in the same group, Group G. While I will obviously be torn when they play against each other, I am really just hoping that they can both make it out of the group. If they do, then they would not play against each other again unless they both make it to the finale (which would be COMPLETELY NUTS).

Another interesting factor in this whole Germany vs. the U.S. discussion is the coach of the U.S. national team this year, Jürgen Klinsmann. Jürgen (which is my favorite German name, by the way) was a player on the German national team when they won the World Cup in 1990. After his playing career came to an end, he began coaching the German national team from 2004 to 2006. Then, just five years later in 2011, he became the head coach of the U.S. national team (or the “U.S. boys” as they call them in Germany).

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Now, I do not know much about soccer, and I am not going to pretend I do. However, there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Germany has much better odds at reaching the finale than the U.S. Yet as an American, I feel compelled to still have hope for my home team. Hope that against all odds, America can pull out another 1980 Miracle on Ice (Miracle on Grass?) and win it.

When I look around at all these Germans spewing out the statistical odds and history of each team, it is quite disheartening. Heck, even Jürgen himself said recently, “For us now talking about winning a World Cup, it is just not realistic.” My favorite part of this quote, however, is what he said next. “If it is American or not, you can correct me,” he said.

Acknowledging the possibility of defeat is definitely not American at all, but the longer I am in Germany, the more I see that it is definitely not a bad thing to do. For example, one of the other teams in Group G is Ghana. When I was talking to the German boyfriend about what teams to be worried about, I said, “Portugal and Germany have the best odds at coming out of the group. You guys probably don’t even have to worry about Ghana.” To which he quickly corrected me, saying, “You can’t count them out! Ghana can be really good sometimes. Germany could still lose against them.”

This still begs the question: Who will I be rooting for when Germany plays the U.S. on June 26th? And the answer to that is: Both, I guess. I will probably deck out my apartment in red, white, and blue while wearing my German soccer jersey. Then, I can just sit back and enjoy the game. If Germany wins, I get to celebrate with all of my Germans friends. If the U.S. wins, I get to rub it in the faces of all of my Germans friends. That is what I call a win-win situation.

Courtney is an American expat living abroad in Germany. After studying abroad in Germany during college, she immediately knew that she wanted to go back. So after graduating, that’s just what she did.

She now works as a freelance writer and is pursuing her Masters degree in Germany. To read more about her experiences and adventures, check out her blog at Courtney the Ami.


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