When Daniel Grammatikos moved from Germany to the U.S. in 2006, he said he made a big mistake.
He moved one 1/2 months before the 2006 World Cup began in Germany.
“I got all these pictures from my friends in Germany on Facebook, and they texted me, and they called me and I’m like, ‘yeah, I’m sitting here with four people watching the game,’” he said.
Eight years later, Grammatikos has noticed a big change. Instead of sitting at a bar with four people when he’s watching the games, he is now surrounded by them. When the Germans take on Brazil on Tuesday in the semifinals Grammatikos will head to Kansas City Bier Company, a brewery in Waldo where he’s watched nearly every Germany game, he expects the place to be packed. For him, Kansas City has become an exciting place to watch soccer, he said.
“This World Cup has been very different than the World Cups before. I remember sitting in Kansas City in 2006 and 2010, and there were only a few people,” Grammatikos said. “It’s just more fun (now). It’s more fun to watch it with more people because people get excited.”
Grammatikos, who is originally from Stuttgart, is married to an American. They have a 2-year-old daughter, and Grammatikos is determined to make sure she is a Germany fan.
When Germany and the U.S. were getting ready to play each other earlier in this World Cup, Grammatikos said he lived in a very divided house. While his wife would be chanting “USA! USA! USA!” he would counter with, “Deutschland! Deutschland! Deutschland!”
And then he saw his daughter dressed in a U.S. shirt.
“I said, ‘no, let’s take that off, honey,’” he quipped. “My kid is going to be so confused when she’s older.”
What if she grows up to be a U.S. fan?
“You will have a very sad German dad,” Grammatikos said, laughing. “No, that’s OK she can celebrate both. I’m very much invested. I’m very sad that (the U.S.) lost, but when they play against each other, you’re going to have to have your priorities straight, it’s that easy.”
While watching the games in the U.S. has turned into something he enjoys, Grammatikos said the experience is still much different than the one he knows back home.
More than 10,000 people packed the Power & Light District for each of the four U.S. games this year. In Germany when the home team plays, Grammatikos said it’s likely that more than 50,000 people will pack into a viewing party.
Going to a World Cup itself though, is something Grammatikos said he would “absolutely” like to do one day.
That’s exactly what Dieter Illig, who moved from Germany to the U.S. in 1987, did this year.
For three years Illig, along with some of his soccer-loving friends, saved up enough money to go to Brazil for a week and experience first-hand the madness that comes along with being in the host country for the World Cup.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere, an overload of people” Illig said. “I guess a lot of people thought that Brazil was the country to go see the World Cup.”
Illig and his crew were able to go to the Spain-Chile match and the Russia-Belgium match. Like Grammatikos, Illig plans on heading to KC Bier Company for Tuesday’s match.
While Germans are used to seeing their team succeed — this is Germany’s fourth consecutive semifinals appearance in the World Cup — a win against Brazil and a chance to be crowned world champions would mean a lot to both Grammatikos and Illig.
“It’s one of those silly things, you know, you feel national pride,” Illig said. “You didn’t do anything to win it except look at it and scream at the TV, it’s just nice to see your team that you grew up with succeed.”
Said Grammatikos: “It’s only every four years, so it’s a very big deal I think, personally. I’m very excited. I’m already planning for the next World Cup; I’m already planning where to watch it. We might go to Germany for that.”