After meticulously figuring out how to get to Parken from the train station, after navigating the migrating horde of Danes porting scarves, jerseys, and huge team flags (which rendered my directions redundant), and after making it through the line for the obligatory patdown and bag search at the door (is that customary for US sports events?), I attended my first European football game ever: FC KÃ¸benhavn versus BrÃ¸ndby. The two teams had equal records going into the game and were cross-town rivals; think Vikings versus Packers' level of intensity, only *all* of the fans are drunk and fanatical, waving banners and dancing in the seats.
Jesus, did we get into the game! In spite of none of us having followed either of the teams previously, most of the DIS students were hollering incoherently along with the deafening Danish-language songs and cheers and spilling $9 beers (!!) on each other. Every questionable FCK foul was met with boos and "BULLSHIT!"s; many of the offsides calls against BrÃ¸ndby were accompanied a spirited chorus of "Offsides, BITCH!" and the occasional half-full beer hurled onto the field.
(The next day, in my Danish class, one of my classmates said that, according to her host family, the Danish soccer league had just switched to serving exclusively non-alcoholic beer at games. My teacher had heard something similar.
That left a lot of students dumbfounded.)
I kind of felt like a dweeb, standing there eating grapes and cucumber slices brought from home while everyone else downed beers. Figuring that it was dinner time anyway, at the beginning of halftime I joined the concessions line to get a hot dog and maybe a beer. At the end of halftime, I was still standing in line. Screw it, I said. I went back to the game.
Thank God I did. The only goal of the game occurred around the 55th minute--and it was glorious. After a failed breakaway, FCK reclaimed the ball and got a clear shot from the right side. It looked like it was golden--but then the ball hit the inside of the left goalpost and bounced out. NOOOO!!1!--wait! An FCK teammate came careening out of nowhere into the goal box and headed in the damn thing.
The field sure got a lot of beers then.
All the passion brought out in the game couldn't be released in just 90 minutes, to be sure. After the game, two FCK fans ran onto the field--fully clothed--though they were quickly subdued by the security folks. The fanatical BrÃ¸ndby section was located right below where the DIS students were. They'd been throwing stuff onto the field the entire time, but at the end of the game I saw some of them throw lit flares onto the field and tear up the seats. Several yellow-jerseyed men engaged in a shouting match with a number of FCK fans in the corner between the BrÃ¸ndby and FCK fanatic sections, until the security personnel stormed both sections to make everyone leave.
But the violent scene described in this article and in the tabloids wasn't my experience. The only fight I saw was outside the stadium between two drunk girls both wearing FCK jerseys whose friends were trying to keep them separated. No idea what that was about--they were screaming in Danish. There was quite a lot of friendly middle fingers exchanged between beer-nursing football partisans on the walk back, but the politi were friggin' *everywhere* and nothing escalated. As a sober adult wearing colors not affiliated with either team, I felt completely safe walking back to Ã˜sterport station. The hijinks were amusing for the most part, head-shaking at their worst, and really not scary.
Though, I heard in my Danish class that a couple DIS kids got into a fistfight with some BrÃ¸ndby fans. And the article describes the BrÃ¸ndby fans breaking lights and other truly uncool stuff. So I guess it comes down to where you happened to be...
See all of my football game photos here.