Integration through Football

World Cup Passion Unifies Germans and Turks

Both times Germany has won World Cup games, Turkish soccer fans have celebrated the victory along with the Germans. Florian Blaschke spoke to researcher Faruk Sen about the World Cup as a new integration engine

Faruk Sen, director of Germany's Center for Turkish Studies
With Turkey not participating in the 2006 World Cup, many Turks living in Germany support the German national team, Faruk Sen says

​​What do you think about the enthusiasm which the Turks living in Germany have displayed for the German national team?

Faruk Sen: Last week, the Center for Turkish Studies had a meeting with representatives of the Turkish immigrant organizations in Germany. At this meeting, it became clear that the Turks were very enthusiastic about soccer and that they were fully identifying with the German national team. That may be because Turkey is not participating this year, and because in 2002 many German viewers rooted for Turkey, when Turkey reached the semi-finals.

Turks are now declaring their solidarity with the German team in return. Besides, we made an appeal, not only to our Turkish citizens, but also to all the foreigners living here, to support the German team in this World Cup.

Do you believe that

Faruk Sen has been director of the Center for Turkish Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen since 1985. Sen is the author of numerous publications on the position of Turkish immigrants in Europe, most recently "The German Turks" (2005) with Andreas Goldberk and Dirk Halm. He is also the recipient of the 2005 German-Turkish Friendship Prize.

this phenomenon is temporary or that it may influence the process of integration in general?

Sen: I am absolutely certain that it will have a significant effect, especially if Germany becomes the world champion, as many Turks expect it will. The Turks will then fully identify (with the victory) and feel that they've contributed to it with their enthusiasm.

Integration is a much debated topic in Germany. What is so special about soccer that it can change so much in so little time?

Sen: Take, for example, Borussia Dortmund, one of the most important soccer teams in Germany. This team has a Turkish fan club. When you go to any game in Berlin, you will see hundreds of young Turks who identify with these teams. In the case of Rot-Weiss Essen, a third division team, I noticed that 400 to 500 young Turks attend each match.

Sen: Soccer plays an important role for the Turks. Besides, the Turks know German soccer very well. The Turkish national team grew up with Jupp Derwall (editor's note: German soccer player and coach who also trained Galatasaray Istanbul from 1984-1988.) All Fenerbahce fans in Istanbul are big admirers of Christoph Daum (editor's note: German who, before becoming the chief coach of Fenerbahce, also worked with Besiktas Istanbul). That's why the Turks identify so much with the German national team and its trainer.

What's the difference between a Turkish and a German fan?

Sen: Turkish fans are a little more full-blooded. They are more impulsive, sometimes even too impulsive. But, fundamentally, I don't think that the differences are that big.

Do you think that this kind of enthusiasm can only be produced by soccer and, especially, the World Cup?

Sen: Should the German government take concrete and reasonable steps in this regard, I am absolutely certain that the enthusiasm which the young Turks feel for Germany, their new homeland, will increase. Second- and third-generation Turks were born here and have little relationship with Turkey. With the right steps, the federal and state governments could absolutely win over the Turks for their new homeland.

Interview conducted by Florian Blaschke

© Deutsche Welle/DW-WORLD.DE 2006

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