Visits grow for Fifa fan fest venues

MUMBAI: Since the 2006 soccer World Cup began on 9 June, around 11 million fans have celebrated at the official 'Fan Fest' sites in Germany in a peaceful, joyful and colourful manner and in keeping with the official slogan, A Time to Make Friends.

Football's governing body Fifa says that the popularity of the Fan Fest sites in all 12 host cities has exceeded its expectations. Fifa president Joseph S. Blatter says, ?We thought that around eight million fans would turn up over the course of the tournament, but that mark was easily surpassed at the halfway point. The host cities and Fifa wanted to do something for the fans without tickets.

"I can only congratulate the 12 host cities on these wonderful Fan Fest parties, which have taken the authentic stadium atmosphere into the city centres. The 18th Fifa World Cup will long be remembered for the unique sense of excitement and passion it has generated?.

Prime sites in the 12 host cities were chosen as ?second venues? in the official World Cup design. Entry into the Fan Fest sites is free of charge, and as well as broadcasting all matches live on giant screens, the Fan Fest sites offer various other events that differ from region to region.

Berlin World Cup office head J?rgen Kiessling says, ?Happiness has spread throughout the 12 host cities. We never expected such a sensational response. The whole world has seen some fantastic images from the host cities, which have joined together in this way for the first ever time, and with FIFA, they have created something unique.?

So far, 5,500 national and international media representatives have reported on the Fan Fest sites, with some TV channels as well as official German broadcaster ARD often reporting live from the sites themselves.

The Fan Fest system was developed by the 12 host cities and Fifa with the support of the local organising committee over a period of two years, thereby creating the biggest ever football party in Germany. The Fan Fest parties are organised by the cities themselves, together with regional organisers whose untiring efforts have helped to make them such a huge success.

Fifa is responsible for coordinating the entire operation, as well as for providing the basic infrastructure such as the giant screens, stages, sound, lighting and decoration of a total of 20,000 square metres in the official World Cup design. The Fan Fest system has received financial support from four Fifa partners: Coca-Cola, Hyundai, MasterCard and Toshiba.

Huge logistical operations have provided the foundations for the success. Around, 17,000 people have ensured that everything has run smoothly on the 14 stages and 34 giant screens, which have been provided by another FIFA Partner, Philips. Local authorities have developed comprehensive security measures, which have been implemented without any major incidents.

The local organising committee?s ?Fan Embassies? also provide a first point of contact for the fans. TV rights holder Infront has provided the broadcasting licences free of charge. The biggest football party of all time is now ready for the second half.

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