Anybody, anywhere who watched the headline news during the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ is certain to have seen the "frontline" TV reports of hundreds of thousands of ecstatic fans cheering on their national side at what was arguably the biggest party on Earth in a long time.
The official Fan Fest 2006 FIFA World Cup turned out to be a resounding success on a truly monumental scale. Far from being a poor alternative to a seat in the stadium, the Fan Fest became for many the place to be, attracting hundreds of thousands to Germany to savour the carnival atmosphere who would otherwise have remained at home far-removed from the action.
Germany represented a premiere for this official public viewing phenomenon with each of the 12 Host Cities -- in cooperation with FIFA and supported by four of the Official Partners -- staging a Fan Fest for the first time at a FIFA World Cup.
Pre-event estimates cautiously hoped for an attendance of some seven to eight million. In fact, more than 18 million turned up to follow the 64 matches on giant screens in prime city locations. By comparison, a total of 3.4 million spectators filled the 12 stadiums staging the competition.
Fan Fest visitors, cheered by the party atmosphere and consistently sunny summer weather, kept the on-site concession stands busy with consumption of Oktoberfest proportions - 3.5 million "Bratwurst" sausages were swilled down by just as many litres of beer. In all, the Fan Fest employed 19,000 people.
Attendance at these official public viewing events became so great that most of the cities increased capacity and rigged up more giant screens. In the capital Berlin, for example, the stretch leading up to the landmark Brandenburg Gate was expanded backwards to beyond the Siegessaeule to allow space for another couple of hundred thousand fans.
Two million spectators are estimated to have crammed into the Berlin Fan Fest to witness Italy beat France in the final. Otherwise, hosts Germany proved the biggest crowd puller in the capital with their team attracting one million spectators to each of their last three games.
A survey conducted by FIFA's research agency Sponsorship Intelligence further underlines the success of the Fan Fest. Attendees were polled at three different locations (Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich) and on three different days to ensure a comprehensive set of results in terms of where and when the German team was playing and whether or not a 2006 FIFA World Cup™ match was taking place in the same city as the interviewing.
This produced a staggering 100% approval rating of the Fan Fest with a further 89% of those polled saying the Fan Fest was second only to the stadium as the place to watch matches live. And 84% felt that the Fan Fest would become even more popular at future FIFA World Cups.
The Fan Fest's immense popularity was attributed by over a third of respondents to the fact that they could watch matches "with a group of like-minded people" or watch football "with other people", while 84% said they visited with friends. This gives a ringing endorsement to the tournament's slogan "A time to make friends".