News Archive

News Archive

The German Historical Museum is presenting: “The Game. The Football World Cup as Reflected in Sports Photography” (until July 30).

During the FIFA Football World Cup in Germany and Berlin, we are presenting various articles that are not necessarily directly about football, but which are somehow related to football.

In 2009, the IAAF Track and Field World Championships will be taking place in Berlin. These articles are ideas, tips, and samples, which are to serve as examples for the athletics organisers as to what they could offer in 2009 outside of the competitions in the stadiums and on the streets

Football has probably never received so much artistic and cultural attention as it is now doing during the concurrent World Cup 2006 in Germany. The federal government’s official art and cultural programme, which is being organised by the National DFB Cultural Foundation, has played an important role. These football exhibits could almost be considered as alternative forms of ‘public viewing’.

Past World Cups as seen through the lens of sports photographers

Since the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, the tournament has rapidly become the planet’s biggest sporting event and photographers have been there, covering the action, right from the beginning. The pictures in this exhibition come from the archives of sports photographers, photo agencies and museums.

The large-format reproductions of match scenes tell the sporting history of the tournaments and document the technical and aesthetic development of sports photography from 1930 to 2002.

The exhibition simulates the ritual character of the game, whose basic structure has hardly altered since its beginnings.

It is divided into seven sections:

Before the Game, First Half, Half-Time, Second Half, Extra Time, Penalties and After the Game.

Photographic highlights from the 17 World Cups create an original, imaginary football match that transcends time and space and follows the ceremony of the game in all its facets.

Before the game

At last, the waiting is over. Four years have passed and the World Cup is about to start. The tournament begins with a large opening ceremony. Then there are the pre-match rituals seen at every World Cup game:

the opposing teams walking side by side onto the pitch, the fans standing as the players sing their national anthems, followed by a huge roar in the stands.

Then the captains shake hands and swap pennants under the eyes of the referee.

The ends are chosen just before kick-off. The referee tosses a coin. The winner decides which end his team is going to defend. The loser takes the kick-off.

First Half

Kick-off. The match begins.  Now anything can happen on the pitch as long as it is within the laws of the game. The aim is simple: to get the ball into the opposition’s net. The tempo is dictated in midfield, attackers wait for the killer pass, defenders fend off opposition attacks. Never knowing what is going to happen next is what makes the game so exciting. Scoring opportunities suddenly appear out of nowhere. A football match lasts 90 minutes.


After 45 minutes the referee blows his whistle for half-time. The players return to the dressing room with their coaches. 15 minute’s break. Team-talk. A new tactic could be used to surprise the opposing team. Counter-attack or passing play, defend or attack, man-to-man or zonal marking. What takes place in the dressing room is a secret. That adds to the suspense – for the opposing team and spectators alike.

Second Half

As the minutes tick by, victory – or defeat – gets closer. The excitement mounts. On the pitch and in the stands. The fans cheer on their teams, and down on the pitch the players stretch the rules to the limit. The referee makes sure that the game does not get out of hand. A whistle signals a break in play. The ball stops moving for a moment, and then play continues.

Extra time

There is not always a winner at the end of the 90 minutes. But in the knockout phase, each match has to have a winner. In that case, the rules of the game require that 30 minutes of extra time be played. Short break in the action, this time on the pitch. Exhausted limbs are massaged, team managers give last-minute instructions.

Then the referee blows to get the match underway again. The players strain every last sinew of their tired limbs.


If it’s still all square at the end of extra time, the match is decided on penalties. Now the difference between victory and defeat is down to individual luck – or disaster. A nation holds its breath as a solitary figure prepares to take the deciding spot-kick. The eyes of millions are upon him. The ball is placed carefully on the white penalty spot. The goalkeeper is just twelve yards away. Unbearable tension. The fear of the penalty-taker before he shoots.

After the game

The match is over.

The winners dive on top of one another. The losers sink disconsolately to the ground. Disappointment etched into their faces. Players who had just been in the midst of battle, swap shirts in a gesture of mutual respect. At the end of the final, the concluding rituals take place: the captain lifts the trophy high above his head – there’s no holding back the celebrations – the victors are borne aloft. The losers stand around staring blankly into space. But once the game is over, there is always another one to look forward to.

The next World Cup is just four years away.

 Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM)

(German Historical Museum)

Unter den Linden 2

10117 Berlin

Tel.: 030 / 20 30 40