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Just one big blast! That's Germany

Most WC venues will hold their open-air events bang in the city centres, besides setting up giant video screens to show the matches live to the millions of fans.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 19:01 IST

Germany promises to be one non-stop party during the World Cup. Each of the 12 venues is planning central festivities for the tournament, and there will be similar outdoor party events and match screenings in hundreds of other towns and cities.

Spread over four weeks, the finals promise to be the longest and most expensive party in the history of the country. Most venues will be holding their open-air events bang in the city centres.

They will be setting up giant video screens to show the 64 matches live to the millions of ticket-less fans. Around a half a million a day are expected - more than 15 million in all.

Nuremberg plans to 'celebrate like world champions'; Stuttgart wants 'a festival of nations'; Munich promises 'a meeting of cultures'; while Hamburg hopes for a 'Woodstock on the Elbe.'

Meanwhile police and government security authorities are hoping everything will pass off peacefully. Some city authorities want to try to impose some control over the events by installing video surveillance cameras and fencing, but the organisers will be depending to a great extent on the goodwill of the guests.

The shadow of hooliganism looms large. At the last World Cup on European soil - 1998 in France - there were several serious incidents of fan violence, and German authorities want to see no repeat.

The threat of a terrorist attack is something no one wants to contemplate. But it is hoped a relaxed party atmosphere a friendly welcome will contribute to a peaceful and happy tournament in keeping with the World Cup slogan, 'A Time To Make Friends.'

'Public a de-escalating character. It is better meet rather than have groups of fans going around without tickets," said Thomas Muelder, World Cup security chief for Hamburg.

According to Gabriele Klein, professor at Hamburg's Institute of Urban Movement Culture, the World Cup outdoor video viewings will underline a significant early 21st century trend -the need for people to come together and be part of an event.

Whether or not watching a game with other fans on a video screen is a substitute for being in the stadium is another question. "At World Cups it seems that only the privileged can now get access to the stadiums while the others have to make do with a sort of 'pretending to be going'," she said.

However Kurt Kraegel, Hamburg stadium manager and local organising committee chief, says fans without tickets will be able to enjoy the World Cup just as much at the outdoor screenings.

In fact, with all the festivities on offer, the best places to be in Germany next summer may not be inside the stadiums but at the 'parallel World Cup' - along the 'party miles' in central Berlin, the events planned at Munich's Olympic Park, along the banks of the River Main in Frankfurt or elsewhere.

Sponsors are expected to fork out some additional 10 million euros for concerts, food and drink, and the World Cup organisers have been 'as generous as we can with the marketing rules,' said Wolfgang Niersbach, vice-president of the organising committee.

Non-commercial organisations do not have to pay a licensing fee for the live match screenings and there are no rules concerning the sales of alcohol. Berlin could well be one of the best places to party.

To compensate for the cancellation of the opening gala, due to have been staged in the Olympic Stadium on June 7, city authorities are to hold their own opening party along the 17. Juni Boulevard, which runs between the German capital's Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate.