Thursday 4 July 2013

The Miracle of Bern and a Happy Family Coincidence

My dad celebrated his completion of 59 years of his life today. He always joked, when someone asked him about his birth date, he would say – “On my birthday, the entire USA and the Americans around the world from USA celebrate”. Few smarties would pick it up right way, while others wonder why a South Indian’s birthday would be celebrated so far away in North America.

Around four years ago, our class friends were on a visit to the Swiss Olympic Committee. I was told by a football enthusiast at the Committee about the stories surrounding the FIFA World Cup. I pressed for more and he started narrating about the most famous tournament Switzerland had ever hosted; the 1954 FIFA World Cup.

History enthusiasts like me do not like just the trivia. I like the story with it. Facts do not excite me as much as a tale related to it. It is even better if it is narrated. I didn’t know about that World Cup except that West Germany was victorious. Held in Switzerland to mark 50 years of FIFA’s existence, the 1954 World Cup was the first appearance of West Germany after World War II as they were not allowed to take part in the 1950 World Cup.

Hungary were clear favourites to win the 1954 World Cup. Having been undefeated for 32 games running, they looked set to lift the prestigious Jules Rimet Trophy (a new trophy has been commissioned since 1974). They were the reigning Olympic champions and had also won the Central European International Cup. Such was their domination that, very few doubted about their inability to triumph at the World Cup.

The previous edition’s finalists Uruguay (winners) and Brazil were knocked out in semi-finals and quarter-finals respectively. Having beaten West Germany convincingly 8-3 in the group stages, the pundits had no doubt Hungary would repeat the feat.

Little do people know, in sports there lies a romance which has its periodic affairs with uncertainty. It is true that results more often than not are predictable, however one can never rule out a possibility of a surprise. The whole process of arriving at an unexpected outcome is what that makes people to hold on and repeatedly look forward to watching sports events.

At the end of the finals, the score line read this way. West Germany 2 and Hungary 1 – an upset of huge proportions and there are no words just to describe what had just occurred in Bern. The German national anthem was played for the first time in international sporting events since 1945. The whole event was a turnaround for the German football and quite aptly it is labelled as ‘The Miracle of Bern’.

To mark this special day, FIFA had few t-shirts for sale on its merchandise shop. While at FIFA headquarters, I collected a stuffed toy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and a t-shirt which had the inscription of this event. 54 in bold; I knew this coincidence and was more than happy to pick up this shirt. 
T-shirt to mark the occasion of the 1954  FIFA World Cup finals at Bern
Couple of weeks later, we had a visit to the Wankdorf Stadium, Bern for a lecture. I wore this shirt on purpose and visited the stadium, now renovated, thinking back on all the events that took place exactly in 1954 on the fourth of July. I bet my father didn’t know this fact until the time I showed him this shirt. In his usual way, he had one good look at the shirt and went on with his daily chores. 
Clicked  in 2009 at  the renovated Wankdorf Stadium, Bern  

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