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Home > Sports > > FIFA World Cup > Specials

The Rediff Special/Erik Kirschbaum

German authors blow the whistle on men

April 27, 2006

German women baffled by soccer's offside rule or unable to fathom why grown men cry like babies when their teams lose a big match are turning to new books and crash courses to get ready for the World Cup.

An entertaining new book, "Raus aus der Abseitsfalle" ("Beat the offside trap") and special adult education courses are targetting women who admit that they have yet to grasp the intricacies of the world's most popular game.

"Offside is often discussed but seldom understood," writes German sports reporter Gaby Papenburg and her colleague Annette Pilawa in the book. "It's a problem involving space and women are said to have their difficulties with space."

Their advice is to imagine your living room as a pitch.

"Your husband sitting there on the couch is a 'defender' and the television he's watching is the 'goal'," they write. "You come into the room and move between him and the television -- now you're offside. But it's only passive offside.

"Then your son (team mate) enters and tosses a bag of chips (the ball) to you. You're now offside. Your husband screams as you have taken an unfair advantage because you could in theory slam the bag of chips into the TV with no defender to stop you."

The two women, who have long worked on television sports broadcasts, offer scores of handy and humorous tips for both genders:

-- Don't interrupt men just before kick-off with comments such as "Dinner is ready" or "Did you walk the dog yet?" because they are too "pumped up with adrenalin or too nervous about the 90 minutes awaiting them" to do or think about anything else.

-- Don't ask questions such as: "Which team is ours?" For those who cannot figure out which side is Germany, "it's better just to keep your mouth shut and wait for clues from the TV announcer".

-- Don't ever say: "It's just a game". Because: "This isn't just about life or death for men -- it's more than that. And even if David Beckham may be the best-looking player under the sun he is still from England. They are our arch-enemies!"


Papenburg and Pilawa said they wrote their book to help women move beyond their designated roles at match time.

"Women either don't take part at all or sit in silence. Women are only tolerated if they worship the 'male expert' next to them, or if they're good-looking, or if they fetch the beer."

In Nuremberg, an adult education centre recently offered a hugely popular course for women called "Understanding Soccer -- Women Want to Know Now!"

In their book, Papenburg and Pilawa warn that it is unwise to show sympathy for Germany's opponents.

"Never! Feeling sorry for Germany's opponents is a foreign concept. Even if the gross national product of Argentina, Mexico or Brazil is anaemic and children play street soccer barefoot don't show pity because their soccer teams beat us enough."

The authors' advice to women who go to the stadium with men is: once the match starts never chat on cell phones and do not even think of getting something to drink or eat until half-time.

"Don't wander away in the crowd because he could find himself facing a dilemma -- you or soccer. And you could lose."


If his favourite team lose a big match, do not ever say anything as daft as: "You aren't really crying, are you?"

To avoid embarrassment, the authors advise never shout "Hand ball!" when there is a throw-in from the sideline. They also offer "translations" to decipher a "secret code" men use when talking about soccer "designed it seems just to exclude women".

The women rave about Berlin's Olympic stadium "because it has a fantastic number of women's toilets -- 212".

Papenburg and Pilawa poke fun at the way men line up in a wall when opponents are awarded free kicks.

"To protect themselves, the men stand closely together and put their hands in front of their most precious parts. Go ahead and make fun of it -- but do it privately."

The authors also offer their tips of the "most attractive" men for women to watch, picking Beckham, Portugal's Luis Figo, Argentina's Hernan Crespo and Italy's Francesco Totti.

"The Spanish men are all beautiful but they have chicken-skinny chests. No muscles. Hardly any other team plays so beautifully but once they get near the goal, nothing happens because of those chicken chests."

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