FK Sarajevo v. AC Libertas
(What has brought you the most enjoyment in Bosnia…so far?)
For me, the answer to this question is definitely the European soccer/football match between FK Sarajevo and AC Libertas. It was my first European soccer venture ever, despite living in the Czech Republic for five years. (Hey, when there is hockey, who needs soccer?!) Since only Emily and I had a chance to go to the game, I thought I’d share a few of the cultural highlights.
The cultural learning really started for me when I realized the versatility of shipping containers. I had no idea. Let me explain. When walking up to the stadium, Emily and I asked some gentlemen on the street if we were going the right way. Ok, really, a more exact translation of my question was “Where is FK Sarajevo? There?” (while pointing). He kindly responded in English, giving us directions, and then asking us if we already had tickets. We said no, and he said at the top there will be a “container” where we can buy tickets. He was so nice to speak English that I didn’t want to correct him and say, “Oh, honey. We call that a “ticket booth” in English.” Emily and I proceeded to walk to the top of the hill, where I immediately apologized, in my head, to the man. Sure enough, he was right to use “container,” as the Sarajevans just plopped a big metal shipping container at the top of the hill by the stadium. There is a man that sits inside and sells you tickets. Awesome.
We bought tickets…ok, from a scalper in front of the container…and walked in the entrance gate. Upon entering, we see four Securitas guards there – three male and one female. The female calls us over to get frisked. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I want to mention it here, because that was a really nice service that the stadium provided considering Emily and I were two of maybe…maybe….ten women in the entire stadium.
We found our seats…in the sense that we sat down somewhere because the snazzy section + row + seat printed on the ticket really means nothing. We got relatively good seats…up high but still center ice (field?). Thank goodness we had eaten dinner because the only concessions to speak of were paper cones filled with sunflower seeds sold by older adult (thanks, Jillian!) women. Although, towards the end of the game, a fabulous man came around with a giant tank on his back and, for 1 km, he would squirt you out some hot coffee in a plastic cup.
Before the game even started, the fans in the zoo section were going at it strong. I’d never seen anything like it. They were loud, they were energetic, and, oh yeah, they were loud! They didn’t sit once during the entire game, even when FK Sarajevo was…er…having some difficulties. They sang, they had drums, they swayed and bounced in rhythm. When they got loud enough (I guess), they brought out even more Securitas guards. I think there about 15 guards posted in front of the section by the time the game was over. Towards the end, the fans took off their shirts and swung them around rally towel style. Then they threw them up in the air. If nothing else, it looked neat. Good times.
This is Osman’s section by the way. He started the game there, but drifted off to the side once FK Sarajevo started hitting post after post after post. Such a fair-weather fan. Tsk tsk.
Having never really watched soccer, I had to figure out the rules as I went along. It wasn’t too difficult. (I tried once to figure out rugby in the same way – but that’s dang near impossible.) Probably most important was that I discovered whistling = booing. Good to know. Don’t whistle when you are happy with your team.
Also, once I kind of figured out what was going on, I realized that so much can be expressed without language. FK Sarajevo won 1-0, but it should have been more like 7-0. They must have hit at least five posts and one crossbar. Heck, I was getting frustrated with them. The man next to me let it be known that he was verrrrrry frustrated, too. Yeah, in situations like that, spoken language is really irrelevant. I totally get what he was shouting.
Anyhoo, this blog post is getting kind of long, so I’ll cut it short by saying the game was definitely a great time. Next up – the World Junior Championships in Handball are be hosted by Sarajevo from 14-28 July. Who’s game?
P.S. Fair warning for anybody that goes to watch sports with Emily – if she gets into the game, be prepared to have your arm seized tightly at exciting moments, resulting in possible bruising.