Friday, June 17, 2005

The First Day in Germany 15th May 2005

Ah the Confederations Cup, one of Herr Sepp Blatter's famous "50 ideas a day" ('and fifty-one of them are bad!'). It does still strive to be anything more than a friendly summer tournament and sits odddly with the much-trumpeted desire not to over-tire our top soccer stars but maybe we are forgetting the fans who want to see it.

They may not be numerous, indeed it might well be called the half-full stadium cup, but this is a barren football summer with no World Cup or European Championships to follow and those poor darlings are still on a hundred grand a week!

Tickets are as cheap as €17 and plentiful. Add the lovely beer (not FIFA's official Bud), the sausages and leafy Germany, a land too often overlooked as a Summer destination and you won't find me complaining about credibility.

The media welcome in Cologne was the expected scrum of computers, official badges, officials and officiousness. If this is a dry run for 2006 then there is still some work to do, especially on making sure the stewards know where eveything is and speak English, the international language. From a personal point of view I had had a pre-tournament nightmare with Yahoo, the official ISP, rejecting my log-in and losing my tickets in the process.

Today was largely spent emailing, phoning and speaking to people to get it resolved. Eventually I abandoned hope of going to Frankfurt for Germany v Australia and had to settle for Argentina v Tunisia in Cologne instead.

The shops here are full of 2006 merchandise with the lion mascot and some interesting t-shirts, one recreating the Miracle of Bern when Helmut Rahn snatched victory for Germany in the 1954 World Cup Final against the Mighty Magyars and another one that comes in the three national colours and bears the slogan "Let's Go Krauts!"

Almost 20 years ago I sat outside Cologne's awesome cathedral with other schoolmates watching Germany lose heroically to Maradona and Argentina in the 1986 World Cup Final and this brought back memories. But now for der f├╝ssball!

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