Frankfurt is known as the financial hub of Germany but the summer of 2011 is allowing the city an opportunity to demonstrate its passion for women’s football to a global audience. In many ways, Frankfurt will be the heartbeat of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™, hosting four matches in total, including the final on 17 July, where the newest queens of women’s football will be crowned.
Not only can Frankfurt claim to be the sporting capital of Germany – it is home to the German Football Federation and countless other national sporting bodies – the city boasts strong traditions in the women’s game. For evidence look no further than FFC Frankfurt, who are by far Germany’s most successful women’s team, with seven Bundesliga titles in their keep.
The current German national team also contains Frankfurt heroines such as Nadine Angerer, Melanie Behringer and Kerstin Garefrekes. However, the crowning jewel is undoubtedly Birgit Prinz, the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and the FIFA Women's World Cup all-time leading scorer.
Little surprise then that Frankfurt will be a hub of activity during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, highlighted by the FIFA FanMile along the banks of the Main. Football has taken up residence alongside Frankfurt’s famous waterway with a giant screen to be ‘floating’ on the river and providing pictures from all 32 matches, in what will be scenes reminiscent of that memorable summer during the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.
Frankfurt’s love affair with the beautiful game is in evidence across the city, with street posts and city trams adorned with Germany 2011 imagery. In the main shopping precinct, a six-metre high image of Prinz is featured in the middle of a popular and busy pedestrian area. Such demonstrative fervour for women’s football is difficult to imagine in many nations, but in Germany, and in Frankfurt in particular, the knowledge and interest in women’s football is strong.
“We have waited a long time for the World Cup to come around and now we only have to wait until Sunday,” said local football fan Lena Maier with a smile, while standing in the shadows of the supersized Germany No9. “Birgit is just amazing with everyone she has done and her goalscoring. It will be a great experience to be watching her and the [Germany] team on Sunday by the river.”
A short walk away is Frankfurt’s famous Romerberg, a square adorned with centuries’ old buildings, whose classic German facades ensure it is a tourist magnet. The Romer, the medieval building from which the square is named, is itself further evidence of Frankfurt’s focal point for women’s football. The triumphant German players paraded the FIFA Women’s World Cup from the balcony of the Romer in both 2003 and 2007, as thousands of fans filled the square and its nearby lanes to join in the celebrations.
“I would definitely love to experience coming here [to the Romerplatz] to celebrate if Germany can win again,” said Stephanie Kirchherr while proudly wearing the Germany national team shirt. “I have tickets along with some friends to see Germany play against Nigeria in Frankfurt next week. I can’t wait because it will be an amazing crowd atmosphere and also, I have never been to a World Cup match before. For some games we will be able to watch on the big screen by the river with lots of other fans,” she added as the bells tolled from the historic Pauls Church nearby. “I know it will be a great tournament.... especially if Germany win.”