Germany finds that cheering is contagious

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Germany finds that cheering is contagious


GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany ― The opening match of the 2006 World Cup between host Germany and Costa Rica may have been played in Munich, but it was witnessed on oversized screens by thousands of fans on streets across the nation, and on giant scoreboards by people sitting in the stands of other non-World Cup stadiums.
In essence, German organizers took a page right out of the book on outdoor cheering from the 2002 World Cupin Japan and Korea. Almost as surprising to observers around the world as the Korean team’s semifinal berth four years ago was the fans’ outpouring of passion and enthusiasm, outside their living rooms and bars.
According to an official from the 2002 World Cup organizing committee in Korea, German officials “showed great interest” in how Korean and Japanese fans were able to watch games on streets and party there afterward.
The host this year is offering a similar kind of opportunity.
Fans without official World Cup tickets can still enjoy the stadium atmosphere, under what the organizers here have dubbed Fan Fest. The games are shown on giant screens, and pre-game shows feature rock musicians such as Bryan Adams and Simple Minds.
During the Germany-Costa Rich match, more than 30,000 sat at Gluckaufkampfbahn stadium here in Gelsenkirchen, northwest of Munich, to watch the game on a giant screen. Though the majority were German nationals, there were also a substantial number of Costa Rican fans.
Once the game was finished, with Germany winning 4-2, fans quickly emptied the stadium, with the German fans partying out on the streets of the city.
Yet the stadium’s day was far from done. Fans cheering on Poland and Ecuador filled the seats for their teams’ match, held just minutes later. The game itself was played at AufSchalke Arena, the city’s official World Cup venue.
While Gelsenkirchen is using a vacant stadium to give fans a chance to soak in the game-like atmosphere, other towns, such as Berlin and Hamburg, have formed squares for fans by blocking off traffic on some streets.
Frankfurt set up two giant screens in the heart of the Maine River, and then built seats on either side of the river for fans to watch the games.
Early last year, FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and Switzerlands’ Infront Sports and Media AG, reached an agreement that permits all non-commercial organizations, and specifically cities, towns and other communities, to broadcast TV images during this year’s World Cup without paying license fees, officially termed “public viewing.”
All non-commercial events in schools, churches, hospitals, companies and beer gardens are also exempt.
However, commercial events still require a license from Infront, which handles the global sales of all broadcast rights for this year’s World Cup.
Commercial is defined as FIFA World Cup parties for which an admission fee is charged, events which are presented or financed by sponsors and events which have any other clear commercial purpose.
The license fees are assessed on the size of the commercial event.

by Hur Jin-seok
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