While their hopes of lifting the FIFA World Cup Trophy for the third time have been dashed, Germany’s influence on the 2010 FIFA World Cup has extended beyond the football pitch as a result of their hosting of the previous instalment of the tournament.
Among the lessons learnt from Germany 2006 was successfully creating FIFA Fan Fests which have proved a popular choice among fans in South Africa.
Over three million people have attended a match in one of the 10 FIFA World Cup stadiums across South Africa, with a further 2,261,226 watching in the South African FIFA Fan Fests™.
The FIFA Fan Fest concept was officially launched at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and millions of people crammed into sites throughout the country to watch the final.
Germany 2006 also passed onto South Africa the notion of being great hosts. Having learnt from the successes of 2006 where the world made friends with Germany, South Africa too will be remembered for, amongst others, its atmosphere and friendly people - with an added “African-ess” that makes this year’s tournament unique.
“Our target in the 2006 World Cup was, if all people coming to Germany to follow the World Cup, went back to their own country and told people ‘Germany was a good host’ that would be great. Now you can say and be very proud, South Africa was a perfect host,” said one of football's greatest heroes, Franz Beckenbauer and chairman of the 2006 Organising Committee.
For Beckenbauer, the legacy of hosting a World Cup is in the way people will remember not just the football but also the people, the vibe and what they see on television.
“For years after the World Cup was finished the world talked about the Germans and now the Germans have a different image. Billions of people follow the 64 games on television - that means the whole world is focused on South Africa right now. The whole world is talking about South Africa in a beautiful way.”
Thinking back to Germany 2006, also a once divided nation, German born Durbanite Antje Hockly was inspired by the way fans and countrymen united and opened their homes to each other.
“My friends went to Germany 2006 and said it was all about national pride - people could wave their flag without being branded about which side [of the iron curtain] they were on. This uniting factor inspired me to launch a website and get foreigners accommodation in friend’s houses in Durban. (This tournament) is a replica of Germany in many ways, but many people say this event is even better.”
While there are many similarities to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, for Football Federation (DFB) general secretary Horst Schmidt who has been consulting to FIFA and the Organising Committee in the build up to 2010, this year’s World Cup has taken some lessons from 2006 but added something special.
“I think there is some influence from 2006, but they [South Africans] have found their own style. And this is the background to this success.”
Spaniard Peter Ickx who is on tour with 40 fellow colleagues, said 2006 was very well organised, “but as with any southern hemisphere country, there is more of a flare to it here in South Africa. And it’s great the way South Africans will cheer on the different teams. It is just good fun, and there is so much more to this country.”