Germany's host cities get into World Cup fever
16 May 2006 , HAMBURG - Language courses, street parties, security plans - the quarters hosting the 32 World Cup participants in Germany are getting ready for the football stars and the flood of fans from around the world.
16 May 2006
HAMBURG - Language courses, street parties, security plans - the quarters hosting the 32 World Cup participants in Germany are getting ready for the football stars and the flood of fans from around the world.
"For our city, this is an opportunity of unprecedented proportions to present ourselves," says Siegfried Fricke, mayor of Koenigstein, a town located in the Taunus hills outside Frankfurt and now preparing for the arrival on June 4 of the reigning world champions, Brazil.
Amid all the joy about the publicity which the host cities and their selected hotels will be certain to gain, they also often face a number of logistical and security challenges.
For example, there's Baden-Baden, where the Schlosshotel Buehlerhoehe will be hosting the English national team. But for some 5,000 English fans, a five-hectare field has been rented near the village of Achern, some 20 kilometres away, where the "England Camp" of tents will be set up.
Koenigstein is spending some one-half million euros (625,000 dollars) for its role of hosting the world champions from Brazil. The town expects up to 7,000 visitors, who will daily be given a bit of the Copacabana feeling with caiprinha cocktails and beach soccer parties.
But despite the folk festival atmosphere for the fans, the soccer stars in Koenigstein will be kept well shielded from the public. The town's district of Falkenstein where the "Selecao" will be staying, will be sealed off through June 16.
And even then Ronaldinho and company will be able to go for strolls out of public view: The Hotel Kempinski Falkenstein consists of eight buildings in the English country manor style which are connected by a system of 1,500 metres of underground walkways dating back to the time of late-19th Century Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Similarly elegant and equally shielded will be the German national team when they take up quarters at the Schlosshotel in Berlin's district of Grunewald. The entire area around the impressive palatial hotel, built in the style of a French castle, will be hermetically sealed off and guarded round-the-clock.
"The footballers are to be completely at ease here," hotel director Uta Felgner promises.
Protective measures will be especially keen for the guests in Friedrichshafen and in
Hamburg. Friedrichshafen, located on Lake Constance, will be hosting Iran's national team, prompting Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to express some concern about security issues.
"We will be using both open and covert measures around the clock in order to guarantee the safety of the Iranian delegation," says Bernhard Weber, head of security operations for the local police department in Friedrichshafen.
City mayor Peter Hauswald will be operating with a different approach: "We will do everything to keep political issues at a distance from the (Iranian) visit."
Hamburg, as well, faces a challenge with the USA national team set to reside in the Park Hyatt hotel directly in the centre of the city. But "everything is proceeding to plan" according to Thomas Model, the man in charge of security questions there.
Preparations are meanwhile going into high gear in the individual hotels around the country. Everywhere, hotel personnel are practising foreign language phrases so that the prominent guests from abroad can feel a bit at home.
"Even the hotel maids are going to be able to say 'hello, in Ukrainian," says Hartmut Pirl.
His hotel Seminaris Seehotel in Potsdam, outside of Berlin, is the only one from the former East Germany which will be hosting a World Cup team.
By contrast, the western German state North Rhine-Westphalia, with seven guest teams, and the states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, each with six, were able to attract the most World Cup participants.
Nor are the star-studded hotels sparing any costs or efforts to make their illustrious guests feel at home. For example, the Hotel Waltersbuehl in the Bavarian town of Wangen, where the Togo national team will be staying, will be supplied directly from Togo with parrot fish - flown in and kept fresh on ice.
Subject: German news