Football World Cup: M fever in Bottrop? “The interest is limited”

Real World Cup fever doesn’t want to come up at the championship in Qatar. A stroll through Bottrop’s pubs during the Germany game.

People like Wolf Kückelmann actually jostle in the pubs during a soccer World Cup. From the Germany cap on his head to the matching jersey, the 66-year-old from Bottrop leaves no doubt that his heart beats for the national team. Shortly before the German World Cup opening game against Japan kicks off, he puts his beer aside, stands up and sings the German national anthem. “Unity and justice and freedom”, a ritual. But in contrast to previous tournaments, he is relatively alone this Wednesday afternoon.

The discussions about the tournament, but of course also the kick-off time on a Wednesday at 2 p.m., are noticeable in Bottrop. There are a few pubs, but nowhere is really crowded when we do our little WAZ pub tour through the city of Bottrop during the first half.

Rathausschänke Bottrop: There are regulars, but it doesn’t get crowded

Kückelmann has settled in the Rathausschänke. A quaint pub on Kirchhellener Straße, directly opposite the Christmas Magic. He is one of twelve guests staring spellbound at a screen that has been set up especially for them. Most of them are self-employed, they say. In fact, you certainly shouldn’t be tied to fixed working hours if you want to sit in the pub and enjoy your beer at this time.

For Kückelmann, the feeling is unfamiliar for other reasons. Because the 66-year-old is usually on site at Germany games. “I’m not in Qatar because there is no beer there,” he says with a smile. Otherwise, Kückelmann has hardly missed a major tournament. “I started in 1972 when Germany became European champions in Belgium. Then came, for example, the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, 1990 in Italy or 2010 in South Africa.”

Bottrop: Real fans are against a World Cup boycott

Most of the time, the Bottroper spent a few days and at least one game of the German national team in the host countries. “The fact that we are now in winter and shortly before Christmas is of course a different feeling.” The background noise around the tournament also bothers the 66-year-old. “I think you have to separate the different topics. On the one hand, Robert Habeck would like to procure gas from Qatar. I’m not criticizing that at all. On the other hand, we are supposed to save human rights with football a few weeks later. That doesn’t go together for me,” he explains and at the same time makes it clear: “The fact that workers are dying in Qatar is without question terrible.”

» Read about this:1:2! Germany desolate behind, opening defeat against Japan

In terms of sport, Kückelmann believes that Germany can go far. Landlord Abdel Hamadi is also hoping for a “winter fairy tale”, as he says. The Rathausschänke opened at 1.30 p.m. instead of the usual 5 p.m. It was mostly regular guests who wished to keep their fingers crossed for Germany. Hamadi expects more activity for the upcoming group games against Spain (Sunday, November 27, 8 p.m.) and Costa Rica (Thursday, December 1, 8 p.m.).

Bottrop: Pubs on the gastro mile closed during the game

Then the gastro mile will possibly come to life. This Wednesday there is nothing to indicate that Germany is just starting its World Cup mission. No flags are flying out of the windows, nobody is wearing fan articles on the street and the game against Japan is also a side issue in conversations. With the König Pilsener Brauhaus and the Stadtcafé, two contact points for football fans have closed.

In the shadow of the central bus station, the door to König City is open, but here too only a handful of regulars and occasional viewers have gathered. Landlady Irini Hubert is sitting with three guests in the Domschänke at St. Cyriakus Church. With a beer and a cozy atmosphere, they follow the game in which Germany goes into the break with a 1-0 lead.

Bottrop: There is no World Cup atmosphere in the Domschänke either

However, the landlady, who is actually a football enthusiast, is not in the mood for the World Cup either. “Normally, no tournament goes by for which we don’t decorate our restaurant in black, red and gold.” But in 2022 there will only be an Advent wreath on the counter. “Interest among my guests is also limited. If they want to watch the games, I turn on the TV, if not, I just leave it off,” says Irini Hubert.

She evaluates the discussions about the tournament in a similar way to Kückelmann. “These issues should have been dealt with when the World Cup was awarded,” she says. Either way, the World Cup fun for football fans could be limited. Because Germany lost the game against Japan 2-1, coach Hansi Flick’s team is already under pressure against Spain. A fate similar to 2018 could loom. Since it was already after the preliminary round home.

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