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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
World Cup 2006 report card
By Sam Wilson
BBC News, Berlin

In footballing terms, the 2006 World Cup is being hailed as a good, if not truly great tournament. But off the pitch, how did Germany cope with hosting this sprawling sporting extravaganza?

Security

Riot police confront supporters
Disorder was sporadic and well-contained by police when it occurred

In the run-up to the World Cup there was some trepidation - perhaps over-emphasised by the media, but certainly genuine - that the event might be remembered not for the football, but for a more sinister reason.

Germany might be the target of a catastrophic terrorist attack; the host cities might see serious street violence between hooligans; far right groups from Germany or elsewhere might leave an ugly scar on the tournament.

None of this happened. The German interior ministry estimates that between 1,000 and 2,000 people were arrested or held in preventative detention.

Ministry spokesman Christian Sachs says: "Considering we've had more than two million visitors, that probably 50 million people watched matches together in public spaces, that's extremely low."

There were some incidents, but they were usually drunkenness and "low-level aggression" said Mr Sachs.

He praised co-operation between national police forces, mentioning the banning orders against known hooligans used in Britain, and the Polish police, which he said were much criticised before the event but did an "excellent" job in preventing any trouble by Poles.

In the light of the fears raised before the event, the security operation at the World Cup must be considered a great success.

The fans

Germany's motto for the tournament was "A time to make friends", and they fulfilled that promise.

German fans
The Germans were enthusiastic and welcoming hosts

Fans from all over the world praised the warmth of the welcome, and were made to feel part of what many Germans called "the biggest party here ever".

The "fan fests", where areas with huge TV screens were set aside for fans without tickets, were a big success.

Fifa estimated that around 8 million people would attend these areas, but that figure was reached within the first two weeks of the tournament.

High security at the fan fests made supporters feel safe. Female fans, in particular, remarked on this.

Meanwhile policing was discreet and friendly. While riot police were on standby, they were usually hidden from view.

The interior ministry's Mr Sachs said: "There was not a dimension of confrontation between fans and police, more a solidarity pact - a feeling that police are looking after our safety."

"The level of self-discipline was so high that every individual looking for trouble was isolated, and it was easy to remove them."

Organisation

Even the Germans admit they have a reputation for being well-organised, and the stereotype was not shattered here.

Fan with sign pleading for tickets
The ticketing situation caused many complaints

Transport was good, with rail links between cities and local services very efficient. Free transport was laid on on match days for ticket-holders.

Most major stations and city centres had volunteers wearing badges saying "Can I help?" in whatever second language they spoke.

Extra accommodation was laid on for fans, for example in Dortmund, where thousands of camp beds were provided.

There were, however, some complaints from fans. Many had to do with tickets.

A system whereby only those with their names on their tickets could get into the ground was found to be impractical and was virtually abandoned.

Lots of fans were angry that so many tickets went to corporate guests or competition winners, compared with "genuine" supporters.

It was felt that some corporate tickets ended up on the black market, where prices were well beyond many fans' reach.

Organisers of the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland have already said they will not follow Germany's ticketing procedure.

Some fans also had visa problems. Ghanaian fans, for instance, found it difficult to get visas for Germany at short notice, when their team qualified for the second round.

The host nation

Hopes that the World Cup would give Germany's struggling economy a shot in the arm remain just that, with little evidence that it has had widespread benefits.

Fans kick ball in a park
The weather was perfect off the field, even if the players suffered

But in other respects the tournament has been a triumph for its hosts.

Germans are invariably proud of their team, which far exceeded expectations in finishing third.

But the World Cup also had a unifying effect on the country. Germany's black, red and gold colours adorned every building, vehicle, and visible patch of skin, but those fearing a hard-edged nationalism were mistaken.

"Before the World Cup there was not so much patriotism in Germany," said Dortmunder Eva Daubenspeck. "But now it's different. The people are very proud of their country."

The weather

While the Germans might struggle to take the credit, the fans were blessed with hot sunny weather for most of the tournament. That undoubtedly kept spirits high and contributed to the success of the fan fests.

While some teams complained that they suffered in the heat, evening kick-offs helped minimise the effects.

Overall

Superbly marshalled, efficient and enjoyable to watch, the tournament exceeded expectations just like the German football team itself. Drama on the field was matched by the smooth and unruffled progress of the World Cup off the field.

By these high standards, South Africa 2010 already has a lot to live up to.




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