World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

We all love the Germans!

laura_smithspark.gifIsn’t it funny how 10 days of football can change so many people’s ideas about other nations?

I never expected to hear so many voices from around the world say how great the Germans are. I also didn’t expect the World Cup to be quite such an international love-in.

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US fans at home in K-town

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KAISERSLAUTERN – The streets of this sleepy town are filling up again ahead of tonight’s match between Italy and the US.

Whoever’s in charge of the music pumping out from the loudspeakers is obviously keen to keep all comers happy - at least until the final whistle – with an unusual playlist combining Italian folk music with Springsteen’s Born in the USA.

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Arrests - but the party goes on

DORTMUND – It was certainly a lively night in the city, with over 400 arrests and more van-loads of police in riot gear than I’ve ever seen in my life before.

It seems that when the German police move in, they do it in numbers.

But the clampdown on suspected hooligans and drunken fans was only a part of the picture.

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Trainspotting

laura_smithspark.gifDORTMUND – The Polish are out in force ahead of tonight’s game. Coming out of the Hauptbahnhof (central station) were plenty of fellas in their Poland kit – but also a fair few female fans in tiny tops and mini skirts. All in team colours of course - sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo before they disappeared into the crowd.

I was also startled by what some of the Croatian ladies were wearing (or not) yesterday in Frankfurt as they faced Brazil.

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Inflatable kangaroos

laura_smithspark.gifKAISERSLAUTERN - Watching the Australians party after beating Japan 3-1 - and scoring their first World Cup goal in the process - was quite an education.

In no time at all, the Aussies had poured out of the Fritz-Walter-Stadion and into the town's "fan mile", lined with bunting, beer tents and sausage stalls - check out the pictures.

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Angolans take on former masters

laura_smithspark.gif COLOGNE – There’s a lot at stake for the Angolans tonight.

Not only is it their debut World Cup match but by a fluke of the draw, their first ever finals game is against their former colonial master – Portugal.

The two countries share a troubled history on and off the pitch.

In fact, when they last played in 2001 the game had to be abandoned 20 minutes from time after four Angolans were given red cards. At that point they were losing 5-1...

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Football mania in Munich

MUNICH – There are a whole lot of very excited people in Munich.

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It’s still early but the crowds in the main square, Marienplatz, are already dancing, cheering – and drinking large steins of the local brew.

A clock on a big screen is counting down to the match. Can everyone really sustain this level of fervour?

I’ve seen lots of Germans wearing face paints in their red, yellow and black, not to mention silly hats, big flags and Hawaiian-style leis in the team colours.

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The Costa Ricans may be fewer in number but they seem determined to make up for it in volume. For every refrain of “Deutschland, Deutschland, Deutschland” that goes up, a rival shout of “Oe oe oe oe Ticos!” swiftly follows.


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The alternative World Cup

laura_smithspark.gifLONDON - It turns out the World Cup finals are not the only international football tournament to be taking place in Germany. At the weekend, Hamburg hosted the finals of the 2006 Fifi Wild Cup - a tournament specifically for regions not recognised by Fifa or the United Nations.

Reader Julia Leonard pointed us in the direction of the event, writing: This is a fab story and I'd like to see it disseminated to a wider audience.

Zanzibar battled it out with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to take the trophy, having beaten Tibet, Greenland, Gibraltar and a team from the host "nation", the Republic of St Pauli - a part of Hamburg more usually known for supporting FC St Pauli - on their way. Read more here.

I'll be hoping for some more quirky stories like this after I arrive in Munich in time for Germany v Costa Rica. After all - why should it be only the 32 official finalists who have all the fun?

The beautiful game

laura_smithspark.gifLONDON - Never mind the question of whether football and beauty pageants should be mentioned in the same breath - this is good news for Togo fans!

I was pleased to discover from this blog that, while the Sparrowhawks might be unlikely to win the World Cup, the Togolese will at least have one thing to boast about: triumph in the Miss World Cup beauty contest.

The lovely Edwige Madze Badakou outshone hopefuls from the 31 other competing nations to take home not only a crown and a sash, but apparently also a cash prize and use of a car for a year.

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It's not quite the $200,000 that members of the Togolese squad are reportedly demanding for taking part in the tournament but quite handy nonetheless.

Is this the success that Togo's chief voodoo priest has predicted for his nation in Germany? Fans of the Sparrowhawks will be hoping their nation's good fortune lasts a little longer...

Anyone seen a Trinidad and Tobago shirt?

laura_smithspark.gifLONDON - When one of our readers Chris Balodis complained he was finding it impossible to find a Trinidad and Tobago replica shirt, we decided to find out why.

Chris wrote:

After months of hard searching, I cannot (I repeat CANNOT) purchase a Trinidad & Tobago world cup top online or in the stores! If it weren't for our Carnival style, we would officially be the most anonymous group of supporters in any World Cup. I'm actually amazed noone is complaining.

We can reveal that there is indeed a severe shortage of T&T shirts in the UK - and it's mainly down to the Scots.

Stacy-Marie Ishmael, spokeswoman for the Soca Warriors Supporters' Club says it's because no fewer than six of the Trinidad and Tobago squad are playing their club football in Scotland.

The fact that the fortuitously-named St Johnstone striker Jason Scotland (no surprises that official replicas of his jersey have been selling like hot cakes) is one of them has only added to their following among Scottish fans.
Nothing of course to do with the fact the Soca Warriors have been drawn against England in Group B...

Continue reading "Anyone seen a Trinidad and Tobago shirt?"

About Laura Smith-Spark

laura_smithspark.gifHi, I'm Laura and I'm more usually found writing for the BBC News website's world desk. I arrived at the BBC three-and-a-half years ago, having kicked off my career on local papers in West Yorkshire.

My sporting claim to fame is having played rugby for England Students (yes, I was a hooker), beating Wales and Scotland in the process. Having peaked at 21, I've been in decline ever since.

However, I saw the sense of swapping an oval ball for a round one and have been playing 11-a-side and five-a-side for the past three years. Despite having no discernible left foot I've mostly been playing left back. I also like running, tennis and skiing and am a recent convert to cycling.

As a Leeds United fan I'm hoping for a return to the glory days. After all, it's not so long ago that we were in the Champions League…

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