Berlin kicks off Cup festivities with free concert
6 June 2006, BERLIN - Football fans can guzzle up to 24,000 litres of beer at a Berlin gala featuring stars such as Nelly Furtado and Ronan Keating two days before the start of the World Cup.
6 June 2006
BERLIN - Football fans can guzzle up to 24,000 litres of beer at a Berlin gala featuring stars such as Nelly Furtado and Ronan Keating two days before the start of the World Cup.
Around 100,000 people are expected to descend on the city centre for Wednesday's mammoth event at the start of a Fan Mile linking two of Berlin's most famous landmarks.
The tree-lined main thoroughfare from the Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column has been sealed off for the Fan Mile where supporters can buy souvenirs and view matches on huge screens.
The gala is being staged instead of one originally planned for the Olympic Stadium which was called off by football's governing body FIFA because of fears it could damage the pitch.
German television is providing live coverage of the festivities, which include a two-hour concert held against the dramatic backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate.
In addition to Nelly Furtado and Ronan Keating, Britain's Simple Minds, tenor Andrea Bocelli, Brazilian group Olodum and Italian rock star Gianna Nannini will be performing.
Others present include soccer greats Pele, Sir Bobby Charlton and Germany's Paul Breitner, who will also be kicking footballs into the crowd.
The concert, which is free-of-charge, kicks off the capital's contribution to the World Cup, which opens in Munich on June 9 and culminates with the final in Berlin on July 9.
Uniformed police will mingle among spectators and 400 private security guards will be on hand to search rucksacks and bags for weapons and other dangerous objects.
"We are confident that the security arrangements will be sufficient," says the man in charge, Rainer Wohlthat.
Security has been tight following a scare a week ago when a drunken schoolboy ran amok, stabbing more than 30 people at a major public gathering at the city's new main rail station.
Some 40 beer stalls will be set up, serving a total of 24,000 litres of the amber liquid. A survey funded by the European Union this week showed Europeans to be the world's heaviest drinkers.
The Fan Mile itself will open to the public on Thursday. In addition to public viewing areas where ticketless fans can watch games, there are snack bars, cafes and facilities for beach volleyball.
There is also a Fan Camp 20 minutes away by foot where budget travellers can get a bed for the night in a large tent and breakfast for 12 euros (15 dollars).
Ticket inspectors on Berlin's public transport system have also been urged to go easy on foreign tourists caught as fare dodgers.
Instead of being forced to pay the usual fine they will politely be asked to buy a ticket so they can continue their journey.
"The inspectors have been told to show more consideration to visitors," said Thomas Necker, a board member of the Berlin Transport Association.
Ticket vending machines have been fitted with a special World Cup button, which provides fare information in different languages.
Subject: German news