Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One man and his log Elze

Monday 12th June Schwabach. Elze. Hannover. Elze.

Arriving in Hannover to yet another carnival atmosphere it appears clear that the German idea of welcoming all fans has been a phenomenal success. So much so that every city you go to has made its own arrangements for public screenings of the games. Going through the city today it felt as the whole city was coming to the game as the Fan Fest in Hannover was less than 800m from the stadium.

I was told that in Hamburg over 30,000 watched the opening game on a large screen next to St Pauli's ground. Going to the game in Gelsenkirchen I passed a stadium on the way which was hosting another Fan Fest, in fact some Polish supporters got off the tram at this stop as they saw the crowd and thought it was the actual ground.

It makes me wonder what the actual attendance would be classed as if they counted up the numbers viewing outdoors.

The proximity of these events to the stadium also means that there are more people at the stadium looking for tickets, which appears to have encouraged locals to try and buy up any spare tickets. There are countless people walking round the grounds with hand-held signs saying that they "need a ticket". The vast majority need this ticket so that they can sell it on to someone else at a profit.

So it was good to see some hands being burnt tonight as there were plenty of tickets available. I saw tickets changing hands for face value and at the same time spotted a local tout paying €200 for a €100 ticket.

The evening got off to a raucous start as a brief clip was shown of Franz Beckenbauer on the stadium screen, visiting the different countries. The clip of Italy began with Germany picking up the World Cup in 1990.

The Italian fans turned out in larger numbers than I expected, but had to contend with the majority of the crowd cheering Ghana on, after they were denied a penalty late on.

Tuesda13thth June Elze. Berlin

Arrived at my accomodation to find a sign offering a ticket for Ecuador v Costa Rica in Hamburg at face value. Whilst in Hamburg last time a friend decided not to come to the stadium and try and get a ticket as they were worried about the security and the price they might pay. I had already dispelled the security problems and now had the ticket for him, for my next visit.

Five minutes later and I checked the FIFA website. First time of trying and I picked up game 48 Ukraine v Tunisia, OK so it shouldn't be difficult to get in, but having the ticket now would save time on the day. At least that's what I thought until I looked at my schedule. When would I pick up the ticket? As I intend to be constantly on the move, and you cannot pick up tickets on match days unless you are collecting a ticket for that day's match.

One aim at this World Cup has been uniformity, they are working hard to ensure the procedures are the same at all grounds. So having been to the ticketing centre on the past two days I thought I would be able to get in and get my ticket.

I didn't reckon on efficient organization, as before you could enter they checked your name against a paper list to ensure you were entitled to come in to pick up today's ticket. Undeterred I found a way round this and went once more to the 'troubleshooting counter' where I picked up my ticket less than 6 hours after getting it on the website.

The atmosphere at the stadium was good as both sets of fans turned out in large numbers. I read that 5 Croatian fans had been sent home as they were caught with pyrotechnics at the airport. Well security missed 3 at least, as late on, flares were lit after a lone Croatian decided to enter the playing field. The German security dealt with it efficiently, as instead of chasing him round the pitch, and him gaining the crowds sympathy, they simply left him and he wandered off at the side of the pitch and was then led away.

The game itself was intriguing. If you had got the teams to swap shirts before the game, you wouldn't have known the difference as the Croatians were playing the samba soccer.

After the game I heard that the Fan Fest at the Brandenburg Gate had been closed down due to the large number of people attending. First estimate I heard was over 200,000. The success of the Fan Fest has led to local competitions offering tickets to the large screenings as opposed to tickets for the match.


Copyright (c) Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

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