Cuban Fans’ Passion for German Soccer Unites Nations Across Continents

A devoted group of Cuban fans shows unwavering support for German soccer, turning the island into a vibrant extension of Germany’s soccer culture every weekend.

Thousands of kilometers separate Cuba and Germany, but for fans like Alberto Santos, 34, the island becomes an unofficial 17th state of Germany every weekend. The passion for German soccer in the Caribbean, though not the majority, is one of the most vibrant, with fans like Santos feeling a deep emotional connection to the game and the German teams they support.

Elvis Zúñiga, 37, proudly shows off his tattoo of Thomas Müller, the forward for the German national team and Bayern Munich, on his left arm to Agencia EFE: “He’s the heart, the greatest,” he declares. Santos and Zúñiga are part of Cubayern, a fan club of about 700 Bayern Munich supporters in Cuba who also back the German national team in international tournaments, such as the upcoming UEFA Euro 2024 starting on June 14.

Santos, the group’s vice president, tells Agencia EFE that many of the ‘Mannschaft’ followers came together after Germany’s defeat against Brazil in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Although baseball is considered Cuba’s national sport—declared a Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2021—soccer has significantly expanded its fan base in recent years. State television broadcasts every match between Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga each year, along with other tournaments like the Champions League.

This phenomenon has also led to fan clubs for various European teams, including Cubayern. “We don’t just follow the German national team and Bayern for their sports achievements but also for their off-field values, which make us proud,” says Bryan Vega, 56, and president of Cubayern.

Euro 2024 Excitement

On Tuesday, the German embassy in Cuba confirmed that the diplomatic mission would sponsor the broadcast of Germany’s matches during the Euro 2024 and host various activities throughout the tournament.

The matches will be shown at the Fellini bar in the Playa municipality of Havana, where a 5×3-meter screen will be installed. Live music and official jersey raffles will also be held. In a press conference, German Ambassador Frank Rückert assured that with these events, Germany aims to make Cuba “part of the celebration.”

The Euro 2024 will culminate on July 14 with the final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Rückert also announced that the embassies of the countries Germany will face in the group stage—Scotland, Hungary, and Switzerland—will be co-hosts.

Santos asserts that the fan club members eagerly anticipate the tournament’s start despite the German national team’s recent setbacks, such as their group-stage elimination in Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup. “Although the German national team is not experiencing its best moments, which is a reality, we will be here supporting them until the last minute,” he affirms.

The growing interest in soccer among Cubans is not an isolated trend. It reflects the deep cultural roots of soccer in Latin America, where the sport is often seen as more than just a game. Latin America has a rich history of passionate fan bases that support their teams through thick and thin, producing some of the world’s most extraordinary soccer talents.

Cuba, traditionally known for its baseball prowess, has seen a remarkable rise in soccer’s popularity. The island’s increasing engagement with soccer mirrors the sport’s global expansion, breaking down traditional barriers and fostering a sense of international community.

The establishment of fan clubs like Cubayern is a testament to soccer’s power to unite people across different cultures and geographies. These clubs, like Cubayern, are not just about supporting their teams, but also about fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. They engage in cultural exchanges and community-building activities that enhance mutual understanding and strengthen the bond among the members.

German Soccer’s Global Influence

The enthusiasm for German soccer in Cuba is part of a broader phenomenon where German soccer clubs and the national team enjoy immense global support. Germany’s soccer success, characterized by a robust domestic league (Bundesliga) and a consistently competitive national team, has garnered fans worldwide.

Germany’s soccer philosophy, emphasizing discipline, teamwork, and resilience, resonates with many fans. The country’s soccer infrastructure and youth development programs have produced numerous talented players, contributing to its sustained success on the international stage.

Events like Euro 2024 offer fans worldwide an opportunity to connect with German soccer culture. The German embassy’s initiative to sponsor match broadcasts and related activities in Cuba exemplifies how soccer can serve as a bridge between nations, fostering goodwill and shared enthusiasm.

The Future of Soccer in Cuba

As Cuba continues to embrace soccer, the potential for growth in the sport is immense. The increasing visibility of international soccer leagues and tournaments, coupled with the support from diplomatic missions, enhances the sport’s profile on the island.

Young Cuban soccer players can draw inspiration from the global success of soccer and aspire to achieve similar feats. The growing popularity of soccer also provides opportunities for local economic development, with potential investments in sports infrastructure, youth academies, and community programs.

Moreover, the rise of soccer in Cuba can lead to more significant cultural exchanges and international partnerships. With its universal appeal, soccer can be a powerful tool in promoting Cuba globally, showcasing the island’s passion and talent. It also holds the potential to boost the local economy through investments in sports infrastructure, youth academies, and community programs, and to shape the country’s culture by inspiring the younger generation of Cuban soccer players.

The unwavering support of Cuban fans for German soccer underscores the sport’s unifying power and global reach. The Cubayern fan club’s dedication to the German national team and Bayern Munich highlights the deep connections forged through shared passions.

As the Euro 2024 tournament draws near, the anticipation among Cuban fans is palpable. The German embassy’s efforts to include Cuba in the celebration further solidify the bonds between the two nations, promising a thrilling and unifying event for all.

Also read: Cuban Lázaro Martínez Triumphs at Diamond League in Rabat

Soccer’s rise in Cuba mirrors broader trends in Latin America, where the sport continues to grow in popularity and influence. The future of soccer in Cuba looks promising, with opportunities for young players, community engagement, and international collaboration.

The story of Cuban fans’ devotion to German soccer is a testament to the sport’s ability to transcend borders and unite people through their love for the beautiful game.

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