Zurich: Switzerland and the World Cup

Posted on June 18, 2006

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125004-367626-thumbnail.jpgby julie galante

Are you ready for some Fuβball? I am, now that I’ve purchased these charming soccer-ball-themed napkins. Oh, and some soccer pistachios and soccer pretzel balls.

For those who live under a rock (or in the US), the World Cup started last weekend in Germany. Switzerland is taking part for the first time since 1994, and the merchandisers are finally cashing in. Also, giant TV screens are going up all over the city, so the Swiss games can be watched in large, beer-soaked crowds (the way my husband likes to). I suspect our normally quiet city is about to see a little rowdiness, especially if Switzerland manages to win a few games. I assume that me eating soccer pistachios while I watch their matches will help them out. Or better, I could burn some soccer candles.

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On opening night we decided to go check out the large stadium-like thing that has popped up on Sechseläuten Platz. After a bag search by some unfriendly security guards (who whipped my water bottle out of my purse and into the trash faster than you can say “the ref is blind”), we were allowed into the corralled area. Inside, there were several drink and bratwurst stands, and an imposing wall of stadium bleachers across from a very large screen. It immediately became clear to me what the city was trying to do with this set-up: they were containing the mess. There were piles of trash everywhere – mainly used plastic beer cups and discarded food wrappers. Such rubbish is usually never seen in this pristine city.

We bought a couple caipirinhas at one of the stands and wandered amongst the crowd for a little bit. We sat down to watch the beginning of the Poland-Ecuador game, and noticed the crowd seemed to be pretty evenly split between supporters for the two teams. We ran into my husband’s German teacher, who was there with a Polish friend. A few minutes into the game, we decided to escape the corral and go find some dinner.

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After consuming some delicious sushi at the nearby Globus, we wandered around the area and came across a large, outdoor restaurant/bar  ,which was also showing the game on several screens. It was a beautiful night out, so we had a seat and watched a little more of the game. This was a much more enjoyable experience than the big corral had been, since we were in comfortable chairs and drinking out of real glasses. And not surrounded by piles of trash.

Along with many other locales around the city, the corral (aka the BluWin Sport Palast) will be showing all of the World Cup games live. Entrance is always free, but actual seats in the stands costs CHF 10 for all of the Switzerland games and for the finals. And, it is "mit food und drinks", as announced by a sign outside.

Another good option for those who like to watch with a crowd is the large screens set up in puls5 in Zurich West. We enjoyed taking in the first Swiss game there with a big group of jovial red-clad Swiss fans.