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The beautiful game

It just got more beautiful still!

Germany’s Sommermärchen (summer fairy tale), the men’s FIFA World Cup in 2006, has been followed by its Sommermädchen (summer girls) the women’s FIFA World Cu, in 2011. But maybe ‘followed’ is a bit of an understatement because, ahem, Germany’s women footballers are actually much more successful than the men. World champions twice in a row, they are now setting the scene for a hat-trick in their own country.

And if the official opening game – Germany v. Canada – last Sunday was anything to go by, they are already halfway there. Full to capacity, the mood in Berlin’s vast Olympia-Stadion was electric. My football-mad daughter Rhena and I sat between couples, families, groups of men and women, old and young, Germans and Canadians alike. The inaugural ceremony was a beautiful mix of Berlin schoolchildren representing the participating countries, dance crowds performing to Beyoncé’s apt song Run the World (Girls) and a massive bouncing globe which released hundreds of floating footballs into the air. We were mesmerised and the game hadn’t even started!

But then they were off… I won’t bore you with descriptions of fabulous passes, fierce shots, magnificent corners, yes the odd foul, and goal chances that made my heart miss a beat. If you’re a football fan you know what I am talking about. Suffice it to say that the game ended with a well-deserved 2:1 win for Germany and me being utterly hoarse.

What did strike me whilst sitting in the awe-inspiring Olympia-Stadion, was the fact that this was an entirely enjoyable and peaceful family event. Parents had brought their young children and happy couples joined in the Mexican wave. 74,000 people and not a whiff of aggression! That’s how world sporting events should be.

Women’s football has come a long way. Back in 1989, the German women’s team who won the European Championship were rewarded with  – a crockery set! Twenty-two years later we’re witnessing a fully-fledged World Cup with unprecedented media coverage. The German channels of ARD and ZDF (as well as Al Jazeera) will cover all 32 games live. The English team’s games will be shown on the BBC Red Button and the BBC sports website and BBC Three will broadcast the final.  Be there!




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