Germany gears up for another party

German Football
By German Football June 10, 2010 00:52

Germany gears up for another party

German fans in Bochum during the 2006 World Cup

Germans will try to forget about massive federal budget cuts announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel when South Africa 2010 kicks off on Friday. Millions will flock around giant television screens throughout the country.

German and other flags are already being draped on balconies from Aschaffenburg to Zwickau and attached to cars around the nation. Plastic vuvuzelas are selling like hot cakes or simply given away, and old and young are busy collecting stickers of all the World Cup stars.

Public viewing drew more than 15 million people when Germany hosted the last World Cup in 2006. The nation transcended its proverbial efficiency image to a country of good-natured revellers. It helped the cause that the German team went all the way to the semi-finals and finished in third place.

Germany’s 2010 team cannot be counted out either. And Joachim Loew’s men drew plenty of praise for their attacking game in the second half of a 3-1 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina last week before setting off for South Africa on Sunday.

Also aboard the A380 super jumbo with the team were 11 lucky listeners of a local Frankfurt radio station drawn from a large number of entries. They will visit game parks and see the first German match against Australia live in Durban along with other German fans who have bought tickets.

Millions of other fans will gather on squares and streets on Sunday night for the game, as part of some 1,600 official fanfests.

It helps organisers that South Africa is in the same time zone as Germany, with games at familiar times in the early and mid-afternoon as well as the prime time evening slot. And if the weather is as glorious as it was in 2006 then Germans will be ready to party again.

The ruling football body FIFA had to cave in over public viewing licences and has allowed bars, restaurants, community houses, swimming pools and even brothels to broadcast the games.

Northern Germany’s port of Hamburg saw a huge outcry when the governing senate planned to move the public viewing area from the central Heiligengeistfeld to the stadium of local Bundesliga club SV Hamburg in a cost-cutting measure.

Politicians were forced to retreat and now tens of thousands are expected to fill the Heiligengeistfeld — in the city’s famous red light district — once again to view the games from South Africa.

“I am absolutely convinced that the people of Hamburg will turn the Heiligengeistfeld into an area of joy and enthusiasm again,” said Hamburg mayor Ole von Beust.

The Berlin Fanfest is split into two parts, starting at the Olympic Stadium and then moving to the Strasse des 17. Juni between the Branenburg Gate and the Victory Column as in 2006.

Up to half a million people congregated there on some days to celebrate and cry with the German team during the 2006 World Cup. The number may not be as high this time around but Fanfest spokeswoman Anja Marx believes that “the public viewing hype is unbroken.”

German Football
By German Football June 10, 2010 00:52
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