Monday, July 3, 2006

One man and his log Berlin

One man and his log
Friday 30th June Berlin

After two days when you would not have known there was a Football competition going on, the supporters are back, the city of Berlin was packed and everyone was wearing their colours. The streets would soon be packed with the masses and they would gather wherever they could to see the game as apart of a crowd.In addition to the Fan fest and the TV's in bars I also noticed that several cinemas were showing games live on big screens for free.

Went to the game early as we needed a ticket for one member of our party. The price at the main station was €500 earlier in the day but now in the early afternoon it was down to €300. Just as well because we wanted a ticket for €150. The Germans have a more realistic view, than supporters from other countries, of the prices paid for football tickets and will not pay ridiculous sums. Thanks to this the price indeed comes down and the ticket is ours.

After the match people declared that they were nervous about Michael Ballack taking a penalty, but then someone added ".... but he is not Chris Waddle or Gareth Southgate". After the discussion about the game it was time to party (so Mene told me). We headed for Berlin Zoo and the Breitscheidplatz the former centre of West Berlin. As we poured out of the S-Bahn we could hear the cars on the street below. The area was almost at a standstill as every car appeared to have someone hanging out a window waving a flag. The party consisited of drinking lots of bottled beer on the streets as the Germans launched into one song after another, while the traffic was motionless but the cars rocked from side to side as the occupants joined in.

After spending some time in East Berlin, I headed to my digs to pick up my belongings in time to make the train for my final game of this trip.


Saturday 1st July Berlin. Frankfurt.

After a few hours sleep on the train, it was time to find accomodation in Frankfurt. feeling tired I decided to use the tourist information office to find somewhere to stay. Apparently Frankfurt had been busy for the last few weeks, and it was proving impossible to find reasonably priced accomodation in the centre. And so I was despatched towards the stadium I was told there was a guest house near the stadium and that I should go to the stadium train station and ask for directions from there. Off I went, only to find that when I got to the train station no-one had a clue where my accomodation was. The stadium is situated in a forest (hence the name Waldstadion!) so it wasn't easy to work out which way to go, but I was confident it was nearby from what I had been told earlier.

I found someone who had a satellite navigation system and they offered to help. It showed my accomodation as being 2.5km away!!! Not happy about this I tried to work out what was going wrong. I realised that the GPS was going by road and that we were right next to the railway line. Therefore my accomodation should be on the other side of the railway line and would not be more than 10 minutes away. My friend in the car was confused as I walked off in the opposite direction.

Sure enough after 10 minutes I came accross a clearing, and found my accomodation. Sellotaped to the door was a note saying that reception was closed and that I should call a number for help. Having chosen, still, to avoid mobile phones I now looked rather silly as I had no way, stuck in the forest of making the call.

I walked round the building and found a door open. Entering the building I found a pay phone and dialled the number. No answer!! I knew it would make no difference not having a mobile!

Five minutes later as I waited innocently outside, a car drew up and my lodgings for the night were secured.
Now It was back to the city centre to watch the afternoon's game. I headed for the Fan Fest which was on the banks of the river Main which runs through the city, with two large screens floating on the river.

As I got there the signs were just being put in place to say that the area was full. So I decided to move round watching the game from various vantage points during the afternoon. As the game ebbed and flowed it was clear that the whole city was breathing football. The streets were quiet, even the police in their green and white party van (as the germans sing) were watching on portable TV's. The only noise to be heard coincided with the action in the game.

During the evening game France got their rewards for a positive display of football, it is this type of display that Sepp Blatter has been encouraging and it has been a feature of this tournament that apart from the Ivory Coast, teams that have played positively have done well.

FIFA have talked about changing the ticketing, but how can I complain, when I got to see the games I wanted. Ok so, I became addicted to my computer in search of tickets and I had to pay a little bit more sometimes but I accept this. The lesson FIFA can learn is that too many tickets have this time gone to sponsors whose guests are impressed by lavish hospitality. I think I have the solution.

Following on from the massive gatherings of people in Korea to watch their teams games, the Fan Fests have been a resounding success and over 10 million people watched the opening round of games at these events. Some of which have...V.I.P. areas. Why not let the sponsors have their own screening where they can show their own products at half time or every time the action stops and leave the match tickets to the actual supporters.

I can foresee that in future FIFA may introduce these events worldwide as they could then attract even more sponsorship!!! Also official merchandise is available at these sites and there must have been a huge increase in the revenue received from merchandising.

Mein hosts have been excellent , and a big thank you to all. I have thoroughly enjoyed travelling all over the country, and although at times it has been hectic I wouldn't change things too much.

Vierundfunfzig, vierundsiebzig, neunzig..............zwei tausend zehn?


Copyright (c) Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

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