A German in disguise

Macedonia against Germany – for many people that’s just another football game, for Macedonia, since the 31st of March 2021, it is part of their sports history. Half a year later, both teams were entering the ring again, this time in Skopje, and for me it was the perfect occasion to see the German national team playing for the first time in my life.

It was Monday, the 11th of October 2021, the Day of Macedonian’s Uprising against fascism, and the day on which Macedonia wanted to write history again. It was raining cats and dogs when the German national football team came to Macedonia to take revenge for what happened on the 31st of March. Back then, the Macedonian national team had beaten ‘Die Mannschaft’ 2:1 on German ground. Germany has been undefeated for 35 matches or almost 20 years on the FIFA World Cup qualifiers until that day. David won against Goliath and people in Macedonia were celebrating on the streets and just incredibly happy about the victory, and I was happy for them too, even though I’m German.

After living in a country for several months, it’s just normal to become attached to it, their people, their stories and their life. Knowing, that a triumph for Macedonia would mean a billion times more to them than just another win for Germany to me, makes it even easier to cheer for the underdog. So I went to the game, under the rain, with a Macedonian scarf and a ticket that cost 100 Macedonian Denars. In case you are not familiar with the exchange rate, that’s around 1.70 Euros. So basically I went to see the German national team playing for the same price as 1 liter of petrol in Germany at the moment. I guess that’s one more reason to support the Macedonian team during that evening.

I wasn’t reading my ticket carefully before entering the stadium, neither the authorities did. So I just went straight inside, followed people in front of me and went to the seat number that was written on my ticket. I was waiting for my friends, and when I spotted them in another part of the stadium, I knew I was sitting at the wrong chair. Apparently, I was only looking at my row and seat, not at the block where my seat was. But there I was, surrounded by Macedonians, having a way better view to the field than my friends though who were sitting behind Manuel Neuer’s goal during the first half.

The atmosphere was good and the Macedonians were euphoric during the first half. A couple of times they started singing some national songs, which of course I didn’t know and therefore couldn’t sing. The people around me probably noticed that I’m not Macedonian, but did they consider me being a German? The question remains unanswered since I positioned myself to my friends when the first half was over, but I felt more save being a German in disguise. You can hardly anticipate how Macedonian football extremists after ten Skopsko would react to their biggest enemy. Who knows, maybe they would even consider me being a spy and put me into their torture chamber that is probably located somewhere in the fortress. Jokes aside, from my experience people in Macedonia are nice to Germans, so probably the worst thing that would have happen is a spicy comment about the previous encounter of the two teams… at least during the first half.

The second half started – with a goal for Germany in minute 50. I was now with my friends and nobody of us was happy about the goal. The German fan block next to us though knew how to celebrate. With their drum sets and their beer-oiled voices, they were dominating this part of the stadium likewise the German team did. For 20 more minutes there was still hope for Macedonia to turn the game into their favor, but when Timo Werner scored twice in minute 70 and 73, even the most optimistic Macedonian had to admit that history is not gonna repeat itself. After that, more and more people already left the stadium, what’s understandable when your team is losing and the ticket for the match is cheaper than the potential petrol costs for being stuck in a traffic jam.

Eventually Germany won 4:0 against Macedonia. The final whistle of the referee also marked the end of the rain. The merciful weather god gave the defeated Macedonians at least a dry walk home. To me it was a nice but slightly weird evening. Some of my Macedonian friends wanted to congratulate me afterwards for the victory. I don’t know if they really believed me when I said that I’m not happy about it. I guess it’s hard to understand those kinds of things if you are not born in a country where having national pride is basically not allowed.

Christopher Machold


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