On June 3, 2005, an unusual event took place on the soccer field of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in Washington, D.C.: the Transatlantic Challenge Cup. Staff members of the U.S. State Department were pitted against their European counterparts in a friendly soccer match. Europe was represented by diplomats from thirteen nations: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and last, but certainly not least, the United Kingdom.
In case you missed the headlines of the Washington Post: the match, kicked off by Danish Ambassador Ulrik Federspiel in drizzling rain, ended in a thrilling tie: 4:4 after regular time. The four goals for Europe, alias ‘Venus,’ were scored by Johann Sattler (1) and Robert Birnecker (1), both of Austria, and by the German, Jürgen Socher (2). The Euros clinched the match, after penalties, with a marginal win of 5:4 (9:8 total) over ‘Mars,’ oops!, the U.S. Another match is planned for the near future.
The soccer teams, spectators, cheerleaders and bystanders ended the day with a buffet of beer, pretzels and bratwurst at the Austrian Embassy. Austrian Ambassador Eva Nowotny presented a trophy sponsored by BMW to the winning team. She described the match as a truly diplomatic one between transatlantic friends where every player felt like a winner. The match was organized by John Hennessey-Niland, Desk Officer for Denmark at the State Department, in cooperation with Johann Sattler from the Austrian Embassy. It was sponsored by BMW, Daimler Chrysler, the European Commission and the Austrian Embassy.