After a crushing 2-0 loss to the U.S. in a Women's World Cup semifinal game Tuesday, the German team bused to its downtown hotel, where it ran into the celebrating Americans.
The housing situation for teams in this tournament has been an uncomfortable and controversial one. Unlike the men's World Cup, where teams have their own hotels and training bases, FIFA has booked competing teams into the same hotels and forced them to use the same practice fields.
"The first day I almost walked into the German meal room," U.S. Coach Jill Ellis said. "Is it ideal? You just make it work."
This week, a German player walked into the hotel's coffee shop only to see a group of Americans sharing a table. The German walked out.
German Coach Silvia Neid said her team has twice returned to its hotel in a celebratory mood after knockout-stage victories only to have to temper their happiness in front of the team they just beat.
"For us it was difficult after having won against Sweden and Sweden was pretty sad," she said through an interpreter. "The same with France.
"That shouldn't happen. I really don't think it's such a good idea."
This World Cup has been played on artificial turf and offers small prize money when compared to the men's tournament, leading to criticism of FIFA, world soccer's governing body.
"At some point," France's Camille Abily told the sports daily L'Equipe, "they have to stop taking us for idiots."
Lucky and skillful
Abily was angry France, the world's No. 3 team, had to play top-ranked Germany in the quarterfinals. And once there, it let a late lead get away before losing on penalty kicks.
So before facing the U.S., Neid was asked whether Germany had used up all its good luck against France.
"Maybe," she said. "That's why we have to win with pure skill.
"But maybe the Lord has a little bit of good luck left for us."
Apparently not, since Germany missed a penalty kick and got only one shot on goal against the U.S.
Sepp Blatter won't attend final
The Germans aren't the only ones who won't be at the title game Sunday in Vancouver.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter, whose organization is still embroiled in criminal investigations of corruption and other misdeeds, won't attend.
It was widely anticipated that no high-ranking FIFA official would be at the game. And although Reuters said that no reason for Blatter's absence was given, lawyers with experience in international criminal cases have said that Blatter would be ill-advised to travel to North America after U.S. prosecutors filed indictments in May against nine current and former FIFA officials and five sports marketing businessmen.
U.S. prosecutors have not accused Blatter, 79, of any wrongdoing, but his stewardship of FIFA is under scrutiny, sources familiar with investigations said.
This will be the first time Blatter has not presented the trophy to the winners of the women's competition since he became FIFA president in 1998. FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon is expected to preside over the trophy ceremony instead.
Tuesday's pro-U.S. crowd of 51,176 was the largest of the tournament at cavernous Olympic Stadium, more than doubling the attendance of the Germany-France quarterfinal game and beating the crowd the host Canadians drew for their group-play final with the Netherlands.
The U.S. has sold out three of its six World Cup games and played in front of more than 210,000 spectators, an average of 35,131 per game. Both figures are second to Canada, which drew 241,904 for its five games, an average of 48,380.
Tournament organizers said 95% of the more than 970,000-million tickets sold for the World Cup were purchased in Canada or the U.S.