European Football Championship Germany Yearning For Another Summer Fairy Tale

Germans have been celebrating their first win of the European soccer championship with all the verve and excitement of the 2006 World Cup, which turned into a month-long summer party. But hosts Switzerland and Austria have had no cause for celebrations yet.

Germany seems so determined to relive the sun-kissed weeks of 2006, when it hosted the football World Cup and revelled in the victories of its national team, that it celebrated Sunday's 2-0 victory over a lackluster Polish side as if it had already won the European Championship.

Within minutes of the final whistle in Germany's first game of the tournament in Klagenfurt, Austria, Berliners jumped into their cars and raced up and down the Kurfürstendamm boulevard honking their horns and waving Germany flags for more than three solid hours into the early hours of Monday morning.

Traffic came to a standstill on the Kurfürstendamm where hundreds of fans staged an impromptu street party.

Across the country, fans had dusted off their black, red and gold wigs, applied face paint and flocked to public viewing areas and beer gardens where they watched their team beat Poland with relative ease but with not a hint of the flair displayed by Portugal, which dispatched Turkey 2-0 in a world-class performance on Saturday.

It was different story in the host countries Switzerland and Austria which each lost their opening matches. The Swiss had an especially bad start, losing their team captain and best player Alexander Frei who tore a knee ligament and will play no further part in the tournament.

Celebrations in the Austrian city of Klagenfurt on Sunday were marred by clashes between German and Polish hooligans. Austrian police arrested 140 mainly German hooligans, some of whom had been chanting neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic slogans.



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