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Berlin Welcome cup

Berlin Welcomes World Cup With Early Celebrations

Thousands of German fans showing their true colors in Berlin

It might not have been the official 2006 World Cup opening ceremony but it drew thousands to the Brandenburg Gate to witness the city's opening gala of the world's greatest soccer event in Berlin on Wednesday.

The Brandenburg Gate, which is regarded as the symbol of a unified Berlin could not have a been a better choice for the ceremony which featured live music performances, memorable World Cup video highlights, stand up comedy and other entertainment. The so-called "Fan Mile" area, which has been set up along a major boulevard to the west of the gate, came to a stand-still as fans came in droves and took the opportunity to bond in a true World Cup spirit.
Large Screen Displays
Most relied on the large screen displays to witness what was happening as not everyone could catch a glimpse of the stage. There were huge roars of appreciation from the fans when pictures of previous World Cup heroes such as Aregntina's Diego Maradona, Brazil's Pele and German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer were shown. Fans, decked out in the countries' colors, flew their flags high, some beating drums and belting out songs as if they were in a singing competition.
For Marc Wagner, from Falkensee outside Berlin, the event was as good as an official one could have been -- Berliners were devastated earlier this year when FIFA officials cancelled a massive opening gala in the city's Olympiastadion because of fears that the grass would not recover in time for the first game on June 13.
"It's beautiful, it's a very well organized event," he said. Some fans were not paying much attention to what was happening on stage as they continued singing and dancing to their own songs throughout the night.
Few Match Tickets
But Robledo Muccer from Porto Alegre, Brazil complained about the limited number of tickets that were available.
"I am only here in Germany for one match because I only managed get one ticket," he said, adding that he would have loved to watch more games.
Muccer was not the only one -- there was a large number of fans who also complained about failing to secure more than one ticket to their team's World Cup matches. Most said they will be in Berlin for the duration of the World Cup and will watch other games at the public viewing camps, some of while carry up to 10,000 fans.
Ambitious Fans
From different walks of life but together for the World Cup in Berlin
Some fans took the opportunity to show their ambitions as they bragged that their teams were better prepared and ready to lift the World Cup.
Polish friends Wojciech Szpata and Maciy Zurawik, from Jelenia Gora, Poland, clad in their country's colors, were among the ambitious ones.
"Poland will win the 2006 World Cup," they told everyone they met.
Ecuadorian Paulina Vasquez who has been in Berlin for a month already, was more realistic of her country's chances in the competition.
"Brazil will win the World Cup, I hope we make it to the finals and at least finish second," she said.
And Fabricio Otarola from Costa Rica said he has never seen an event as big as this ceremony.
"It's amazing and really nice," he said, adding that if Berlin's opening party was an indication of what was still to come, it would turn out to be a "really great" World Cup. "Our country is small, we don't see such big events often."


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