After the brief announcement, the ZDF anchorwoman moved swiftly on to the happier news of the World Cup party. The motto: We won’t let the thugs ruin our mood. No dramatic scenes of fighting hooligans or police officers crouching in modern day armour were shown. Other media kept the ball low too.
Media reporting on hooliganism looked very different until shortly before the World Cup. The picture of Daniel Nivel, the French policeman who was almost beaten to death by German hooligans, was seen all around the world.
When Germany met the Slovenian national side in Celje, Slovenia, in March last year, the match was accompanied by violence from German hooligans. Sixty-five troublemakers were arrested, prompting the coach of the German team Jürgen Klinsmann to publicly apologise to the Slovenians and provoking deep concern in the run up to the World Cup.
The Interior Minister at the time, Otto Schily, told the German national news newspaper Bild, “the troublemakers are a disgrace.” The World Cup’s top organiser Franz Beckenbauer said, “nothing like this will happen in Germany.”
The sixty-five arrests in 2005 got Fußball-Deutschland very worked up, but the 429 arrests of potential troublemakers in Dortmund is not causing any real scandal. How can that be so?
Reporting of hooliganism has a completely different tone to before the World Cup. Instead of sending shock reports throughout the country, the media are looking to the slogan “Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden” (“A time to make friends”).
It is as if the general World Cup euphoria has brought the editors to the point where they want to protect Germany’s reputation and not spoil the party mood.