Germany makes mark with fun as well as football

Enough about the football, what about the party?

The World Cup in Germany was as much a festival as it was a football tournament, with organizers going further than ever before to bring the excitement of the competition out of the stadiums and into towns and cities across the country.

Germans in paper garlands of black, red and gold, Mexicans sporting sombreros, Brazilians in bikinis, Swiss fans jingling cow bells - millions gathered at Fan Fests in towns around the host nation to celebrate and watch the games on big screens.

The sun shone, food and drink were cheap and the atmosphere was peaceful as fears that the Fan Fests would be the ideal battlefield for rival hooligans proved unfounded.

"It has been an astonishing World Cup and the biggest party on earth," said Sepp Blatter, president of world soccer's governing body FIFA.

Exceeded everything

"The atmosphere spread from the stadiums into the cities, into the country and around the world. We expected a fantastic World Cup in Germany but this has exceeded everything we could have hoped for," he said.

Supporters said the Fan Fests were sometimes better than the matches at the 18th World Cup, which has recorded one of the lowest goals-per-game ratios in the competition's history.

The lack of goals did not dampen spirits at the Fan Fests, where visitors were happy to sing, dance and soak up the sun.

The tournament's slogan was "A Time To Make Friends" and the Fan Fests were part of organizers' efforts to banish the image of the humourless German by staging a giant month-long party.

They went a long way to achieving their goal.

Some 14 million people are estimated to have visited the Fan Fest areas, double the number expected, and some two million foreign visitors have come to Germany during the tournament.

"The hospitality and friendliness of our hosts is what I will remember from this World Cup," Marko Mijailovic, a Swedish-born Serb, said at the Fan Fest in the western town of Muenster during the group phase of the competition.

"We've had a great time and met some wonderful people here."

Source: China Daily

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