Augsburg revels in welcoming the world

Augsburg is proud of its contribution to women's football in its country. The city lays claim to staging the first-ever unofficial match of a German international women's team in 1957. Back then, public exhibitions of women's football were banned by the DfB, but nevertheless, this game at the Rosenaustadion attracted a crowd of around 10,000.

“It finished 5-0, a typical result for us,” said Bernhard Rotter, the city’s Project Manager for this FIFA Women’s World Cup, laughing. “As well as being one of the host cities for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup last year, in 2009 Germany played the USA here. It was sold out a week before the game and not only that, it was the first match to sell out in the history of the new stadium here!

"Usually, this venue plays host to local club FC Augsburg, but until then they hadn't even managed it! It just shows the love that people have for women's football here.”

There is no doubt whatsoever that Augsburg is the most historical venue of Germany 2011. The city, which lies 57 km north-west of Munich, traces its origins back to Roman times and was the home of Mozart's father, Bertolt Brecht and Rudolf Diesel. It is the only German city with its own public holiday, the Augsburger Friedenfest (Peace Festival), which has celebrated tolerance between Catholics and Protestants for centuries.

“We’re very proud to be the only venue in Bavaria to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” continued Rotter. “We’re similarly proud to claim the slogan ‘City of Peace’ within the host city logo, as we want to convey the message of peace to the world and fair play in football to fans around the globe. We hope that through the media exposure the city receives, it might lead more people to come and visit Augsburg and boost tourism in Bavaria, beyond just Munich, and experience our rich cultural heritage.”

I’m starting to feel the growing sadness that our involvement will soon be finished and this exciting time will be over.

Augsburg has been proudly showcasing its contribution to the arts by setting up a Kulturstadion (Culture Stadium) in the city's main square. Regular events and hugely popular concerts have taken place over the past two weeks, making the balmy summer evenings come alive with an eclectic mix of music and football.

“We are very proud and very thankful to all the people who applied and took part in the event,” said Rotter. “We had a team of 300 volunteers solely for Augsburg, who helped coordinate visitors not only getting to the stadiums but also getting around the sights, and acted as a warm and cheerful welcome to all the fans.”

But as the saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end’. On Sunday, the football side of things will finish when USA face Australia in a quarter-final, before the curtain comes down on the cultural programme with a classical music spectacular. For the charismatic Rotter, there are mixed emotions.

“Two weeks ago I had butterflies in my stomach ahead of the first game, which turned to goosebumps as the tournament has gone on,” he said. “But unfortunately I’m starting to feel the growing sadness that our involvement will soon be finished and this exciting time will be over.

“However, I’m very proud to have participated in this unique event and lived through this experience. We've been working for two years on the organisation of this tournament and we’ve done a great job. Seeing it all take place is fantastic!”