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Swanky Munich proud to host Cup opener

Fashionable, tech-savvy and home to the luxury carmaker BMW, Munich is more than 'the beer city' and this what the government wants to prove during the WC.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 12:04 IST

The swanky Bavarian city of Munich fancies itself as the 'capital of soccer' in Germany with a club that dominates the Bundesliga and supplies a steady stream of talent to the national team.

Not even Bayern Munich, however, can draw international crowds like the Oktoberfest, the city's annual tribute to Germany's national beverage.

Six million tourists jam into Munich, a city of 1.3 million just north of the Alps and hosts for the World Cup's opening match, to drink six million litres of beer over the fortnight.

"We don't want to be thought of only as 'the beer city'," Munich deputy mayor Christine Strob said.

"We'd like to be thought of as a soccer capital but with Oktoberfest I guess it's just automatic that people think of beer first."

Fashionable and fashion-conscious, Munich is Germany's most expensive city and arguably its cleanest despite the annual beer-drinking orgy in cavernous tents set up on a meadow near the central railway station.

Home to luxury carmaker BMW, Munich emerged after World War II as a thriving center for aerospace and high-tech industries that belie its heritage as a poor rural farming area. Locals proudly boast that Munich has managed to combine laptops and lederhosen.

Yet Munich is - for Germans who live beyond the so-called 'white sausage equator' that runs north of the Bavarian capital - sometimes a rather obnoxious place where everything is said to be superior.

Munich's schools are better, wages are higher, unemployment is lower and with the Alps and pristine lakes just beyond city limits, locals boast that the quality of life is better. A recent poll found Munich men to be the happiest in all of Germany.

Bayern Munich, four times European Cup winners and by far the most successful club in German soccer history, reflects that superiority complex in the largely Roman Catholic state of Bavaria.

First Published: May 29, 2006 12:04 IST