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Here come the girls!

After the triumph of the 2006 men’s World Cup, can Germany work its magic on the equivalent women’s event?

The 2006 FIFA World Cup was a public relations triumph for Germany. Viewing figures were huge, stadium attendances were massive, incidents were scarce and the strassen were overflowing with the three Bs, Blokes, Becks and Bonhomie. British fans may have been grumpy about England’s performance, but they had nothing but praise for the host nation’s efforts. That’s not really surprising, given that Germany’s holy trinity of football, sausages and beer is right up our alley.

This year Germany is hosting another FIFA World Cup, but this time for women, and this time the challenges will be different.

Put frankly, the pulling power of women’s football is still fairly limited – even though in this instance the England women’s team has a good chance of doing better than the men. Having attended a few women’s football matches in the UK in my time, I know from experience that the huge stadiums which normally attract tens of thousands in men’s football can be echoingly empty when there’s a women’s match in progress. Atmosphere can be a problem.

Of course Germans being Germans, they have planned for that. The tournament (26 June – 17 July) is using some smaller capacity stadiums, such as those in Bochum, Augsburg and Wolfsburg. But that doesn’t mean they’re not making a big song and dance about the contest, with Frankfurt hosting a gigantic multimedia show celebrating the magic and passion of football through performance and pyrotechnics on the eve of the tournament, on 25th June.  Then, for the duration of the tournament, Frankfurt Football Gardens on the southern bank of the Main river will have big screens and an extensive ‘entertainment and activity programme’, suggesting that the organisers realise that this will be more of a family event, with less of those three Bs – the Blokes, the Becks and the Bonhomie. Certainly this household is making its own (fragrant) contribution to the celebration, with my wife and teenage daughter going to the opening match in Berlin.

Overall, it should be a colourful occasion, especially for the clash of the Titans between the USA and Germany, one or other of whom are expected to win, and certainly you can’t fault the Germans for the marketing muscle they’re putting behind the competition. One question, though: now that octopus is off the menu, have they lined up some replacement psychic seafood?

FIFA’s site

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