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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Dutch brush up World Cup German
Dutch fans
The Dutch FA says Dutch-German rivalry is getting friendlier
With preparations for the 2006 World Cup in Germany in full swing, the Dutch football association (KNVB) is doing its bit to spread good-neighbourliness.

The KNVB is offering German language classes for its Orange Army of fans to help their trip go more smoothly.

Many Dutch people are skilful linguists - often speaking French, English and German - but these lessons are targeted at connoisseurs of the beautiful game.

"Surely that was offside" might prove just as useful as "How far to Berlin?"

So the guide has phrases such as the friendly: Zal ik uw haar ook oranje verven? (German: Soll ich Ihnen auch die Haare orange färben? English: Shall I dye your hair orange too?)

Just to rub it in, a Dutch fan might also need the phrase: Zo snel hebben we bij mijn weten nog nooit gescoord. (German: So schnell haben wir meines Wissens noch nie ein Tor geschossen. English: As far as I know, we've never scored a goal so quickly before.)

And if a German cannot see any cause for celebration the Dutch fan might ask: Misschien heeft u gewoon geen gevoel voor humor? (German: Vielleicht haben Sie einfach keinen Sinn für Humor? English: Maybe you just don't have a sense of humour?)

In the section on eating out, the guide offers the practical: Mogen wij de resten voor onze hond meenemen? (German: Dürfen wir die Reste für unseren Hund mitnehmen? English: Can we keep the leftovers for our dog?)

Arch rivals

Despite decades of post-war reconciliation, Dutch-German rivalry has been fierce at times.

Dutch fans
It's a friendly thing and has been for a number of years
Ronald Dehaas,

In the 1974 World Cup, the Dutch team refused to attend the post-match meal after losing the final to Germany.

And there has been trouble off the pitch, with fights between fans during matches.

But the KNVB's Ronald Dehaas says times are changing.

"Germany has always been a rival. The upcoming match against Germany [17 August] will be a good one to watch. It is every time we play," he told the BBC News website.

"But nowadays the rivalry is friendly. Before, in '74, when we were in the final against Germany, and the period after, it wasn't. But now it is more friendly."

Secret fans

Mr Dehaas says there are even a number of Germans who are secret orange fans.

"We often receive requests about photo-cards, posters etc of Dutch players from German supporters who support Dutch football.

"It's a friendly thing and has been for a number of years."

Dutch fans struggling with the language can take comfort in the fact that some phrases need no translating, such as "Taxi!" and "Rudi Carrell" - a Dutch television presenter who is also familiar to Germans.

Orange fans settle for a draw
16 Jun 04 |  Europe


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