The FIFA World Cup Trophy caused its customary stir on visits to Cologne (20 May) and Saarbrücken (22 May). In Cologne, despite dreadful weather and a severe storm warning that forced the show to take refuge in the nearby Cinedom, some 10,000 people began queueing long before the event began, each yearning for a glimpse of the star attraction.
Yet, while the Trophy understandably took centre stage, the focus of the day was on the virtues of voluntary work. Indeed, the event was intended as a thank-you to all the volunteers without whom organised football simply could not take place. More than 160,000 unpaid helpers in Cologne alone give up a portion of their time, assisting in a wide range of communal activities, as Mayor Fritz Schramma recognised in his welcome speech.
City Volunteers to assist guests from around the globe
This impressive figure is set to expand yet further for the duration of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, when a team of 250 City Volunteers will take up station at central points around the city from to help and advise travelling fans. The Cologne City Volunteers team is largely made up of German Sports Academy students and city apprentices.
Diverse supporting programme and football fun
FIFA and the OC joined forces with city authorities to lay on a wide-ranging supporting programme for the crowds flocking to the FIFA World Cup Trophy show. Kids and youths joined in the non-stop football tournament on a specially constructed mini-pitch. The focus was on scoring: for every goal, FIFA and the OC donated a Euro to 'Six villages for 2006', the official charity campaign of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and to the Cologne-based Anadolu culture and sports club.
Saarbrücken takes visitor total over 300,000
In Saarbrücken, despite torrential rain that lasted well into the afternoon, football fans turned up in vast numbers to witness the Trophy's arrivals. By late afternoon, FIFA and the German Organising Committee (OC) had greeted more than 17,500 visitors to Tiblisser Platz, taking the total figure for the tour beyond the 300,000-mark.
Some 4,000 school pupils used a morning off to explore the informative and entertaining action modules. Later in the day, the crowd swelled to such an extent that organisers switched off the spectacular 3D video show in order to give everyone in the long queues a chance of a close-up view of the Trophy, and a photograph with the glittering star attraction.
A group of 30 wheelchair-users seized the opportunity of a snapshot, along with another local resident who was given a plaster model of the Trophy by his father more than 30 years ago, and who now came in search of a snap with both his replica and the real thing.
The 2006 FIFA World Cup Tour concludes this week with visits to Kassel (24 May) and Hamburg (26 May).