German newspaper: 'Sorry Mexico. Today we build the wall.'

Alex Baker

The World Cup is often lauded as a global, unifying event, and in many ways, it is. But there is also a sometimes nasty, and yes divisive, edge to international soccer competition. Fans in stadiums during the heat of a match will say things they may wouldn’t normally say in polite company. During the heat of a match, it can seem that nothing is off limits.

But in the well-lit, air-conditioned relative calm of a newsroom, where sober-minded editorial decisions are made, one would think that cooler heads would prevail. That the decisions regarding what’s appropriate to publish and what’s not would be more measured. Apparently, that wasn’t the case at the German newspaper Die Welt, which published this headline ahead of defending champions Germany’s clash with Mexico today.

This was the front page of Die Welt today. For all you non-German speakers out there, the headline translates as, “Sorry Mexico. Today WE build the wall.”

The joke ended up being on Die Welt, and Germany, as the defending World Cup champions failed to score in a stunning 1-0 upset loss to Mexico.

We know that when World Cup fever takes hold, it can be hard to keep up with current events. So maybe it’s possible that the front page and sports editors at Die Welt weren’t aware that, while no wall on the United States’ southern border has yet been built, migrant families currently attempting to cross the border are being detained, with children, some as young as just a few months old, being forcibly separated from their parents. Hey, we get it, we’re busy too. It’s the World Cup.

But of all the countries in the world, one would think that Germany, given its history, would be more sensitive to the implications of making a joke about President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. After all, Germany is one of the few countries on Earth with firsthand experience of what having an actual physical wall that literally separated families and communities from one another for decades, can do to a nation and a people’s psyche.

But apparently, the editors at Die Welt didn’t take any of that into account when they decided it would be funny to make a jokey headline about Germany building a wall on the pitch to stop Mexico. In fairness, the idea of a “wall” is fairly common parlance in the world of soccer.

But guys … timing. Perhaps this is why Germans aren’t particularly known for their sense of humor?

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