Mixed feelings in Hamburg as US team leaves

23rd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 June 2006, HAMBURG - There were mixed feelings in Hamburg on Friday as the United States left the city after their elimination from the World Cup, with authorities breathing a sigh of relief at the end of a massive security operation.

23 June 2006

HAMBURG - There were mixed feelings in Hamburg on Friday as the United States left the city after their elimination from the World Cup, with authorities breathing a sigh of relief at the end of a massive security operation.

"We would be bad hosts if we said we were glad that they are eliminated. But I must also say that we have less work now," police spokesman Ralf Mayer said.

United States athletes get strong police protection at every big sports event and the World Cup was no exception.

To make things more difficult, the US footballers chose to stay in the downtown Park Hyatt hotel in the Northern German port city, with a rear entrance in a shopping mall at the main pedestrian area.

A police force of 100 - which will now be used in other World Cup areas such as the fanfest - was on hand around the clock once the team arrived on June 2. Special measures were also taken on the way to, from and during training in the north of the City.

There were no major complaints, but shopowners in the mall next to the hotel said the police presence may have deterred potential customers.

"The presence of the Americans here did definitely not help sales. Some customers weren't sure whether they were allowed in," said gift- shop owner Ulrich John. "The players' wives had a look around. But they didn't buy anything."

A nearby sweets shop was set to take down its American flag with the words "we are pleased to see you" written on it as normality slowly set in again. The full team did not leave Friday - players were rather departing individually throughout the day and on Saturday as well.

US team manager Bruce Arena said: "We may have not done everything right on the pitch, but we did everything right with the choice of our quarters."

Park Hyatt spokeswoman Katrin Schaffner returned the compliments: "It was a wonderful time, a great atmosphere. Now I am a little sad."

Some wondered whether the sight of players carrying takeaway pizzas into the hotel was a sign that they were not fully happy with the menu of hotel chef Sven Ullrich and his staff.

But a look at the US Soccer federation's web log proved them wrong, with one entry from June 9 for instance naming the day's dinner "another spectacular effort from the staff."

Hamburg mayor Ole von Beust had nothing but praise for the team which lost 3-0 against the Czech Republic, drew 1-1 with Italy and then lost 2-1 against Ghana to finish last in a tough group E.

"The players impressed me very much with their likeable appearance and the openness with which they approached the residents of Hamburg," von Beust said.

"I feel sorry for them that they were eliminated. But, looking at the tough opponents, they gave their very best."

Hamburg's football legend and former Germany captain Uwe Seeler, who lives next door to the training ground, agreed that the sheer presence of a team in the city by far outweighed the security aspect.

"That wasn't really bothering us. We could fully understand it. It was very special to have a World Cup team stay in Hamburg. I regret that they are leaving now," said Seeler.

The departure of the US team marks the first step in a slow decline of World Cup action away from the fan fests which will be completed when the city hosts its final game, a quarter-final next week Friday.

DPA

Subject: German news

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