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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 08:29 GMT
World Cup fever grips Germany
By Tristana Moore
BBC News, Berlin

New Castle in Stuttgart, south-western Germany
The World Cup gives Germans cause to feel proud again

"Welcome to Germany, Land of Ideas" is a new video that has been released in the run-up to the 2006 Football World Cup.

The film starts with picturesque images from Germany, showing the Rhine, romantic castles, the Bavarian Alps and the rugged Baltic coastline.

The film is designed to encourage tourists to visit Germany this year.

The video features German celebrities, including the super-model, Heidi Klum, who extol the virtues of life in Germany.

It is a rare expression of national pride. The film is part of a joint initiative of the German government and business, called "Deutschland, Land der Ideen" (Germany, Land of Ideas).

"Of course there is a PR offensive. The World Cup is the biggest event that we will stage in this country," says Christian Sachs, the German Interior Ministry spokesman.

"And therefore the German government has a duty to show the world what Germany is like. The preparations are well under way, we're really looking forward to the World Cup."

Stadiums under scrutiny

Amid all the excitement, safety concerns have been raised about some of the venues.

A German consumer organisation criticised the stadiums in Berlin, Gelsenkirchen, Leipzig and Kaiserslautern, alleging deficiencies that could pose a risk to fans.

Frankenstadion in Nuremburg, Germany
Nuremberg's Frankenstadion: One of 12 World Cup venues

The allegations were dismissed by Franz Beckenbauer, the former football hero who heads the World Cup organising committee.

Around three million visitors are expected in Germany this year.

Up to 100,000 England fans are likely to travel to Germany - more than any other country. According to reports, less than 10% will have tickets to see the games live.

But the German authorities want to make it clear that any fans who do not have tickets are still welcome. They will be able to watch the matches on giant screens, which will be erected in towns and cities across Germany.

In Berlin, the area around the Brandenburg Gate is to be transformed into an open-air "fan-mile" with screens and food stands.

Hooligan fears

But away from the publicity campaigns, there are increasing worries over hooliganism.

There are also fears about some of the methods being proposed to control them.

In an interview with the German news magazine Focus, Duesseldorf senior state prosecutor Klaus Bronny spoke of using "fast-track procedures" for as many criminal offences as possible.

Reports suggest the proceedings will not be in writing, charges will be oral and witnesses will not be required.

Human rights charity Fair Trails Abroad said it would have hoped Germany had learned from the fiasco of accelerated justice systems during Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Garry Mann case arising from the Portuguese system in Euro 2004.

UK police deal with football hooligan (archive pic)
British police will be on hand to deal with known troublemakers
The German authorities are reported to be particularly concerned about potential clashes involving England fans.

The British government has established a "football attache" in the embassy in Berlin, who is liaising with the German authorities in the run-up to the World Cup.

Consular staff are aware that with England playing at different locations all over Germany, there will be many lost passports, as well as other issues to deal with.

"The main challenge is to make sure everyone has a really good time, and the Germans are up for it. The Germans are showcasing the whole country," said Andy Battson, a consular official.

"The German authorities are taking everything very seriously. On the hooligan issue, the British police have worked hard to get this issue under control, since the bad old days of 10 years ago. And we're respected globally for this."

Surveillance

As part of the security measures, there are plans for uniformed British police officers to patrol German cities during the World Cup. But the German government knows that hooliganism is not limited to one country.

"We are liaising with neighbouring countries - and with countries who have had a history of troublemakers, the Netherlands, England, even here in Germany," said Christian Sachs, the German Interior Ministry spokesman.

"One hundred per cent security is not possible. But the fact that, for example, British police officers will be here in Germany, will ensure that they have first-hand knowledge of their fans."

And, at the back of everyone's mind, is the threat of a terrorist attack during the World Cup.

There are reports that German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wants to ask Nato to deploy Awacs surveillance planes in order to monitor security this summer.

Mr Schaeuble has also suggested deploying German soldiers during the World Cup, to assist police officers.

"That's still under discussion," Christian Sachs said. "It requires a change in Germany's Basic Law."




SEE ALSO:
Beckenbauer hits back over venues
11 Jan 06 |  World Cup 2006
Dutch brush up World Cup German
12 Aug 05 |  Europe
World Cup fight pictures released
07 Oct 05 |  Manchester
Is Germany's economy recovering?
05 Sep 05 |  Business


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