Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bigger and Richer, It's the Maddest Show on Earth; Nothing Can Match the Buzz and Excitement of the World's Greatest Sports Event, Says Ian Chadband in Munich

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bigger and Richer, It's the Maddest Show on Earth; Nothing Can Match the Buzz and Excitement of the World's Greatest Sports Event, Says Ian Chadband in Munich

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

A MAN goes to watch Brazil's football team training near Frankfurt, finds 25,000 others going nuts to do the same so he has to buy a ticket from a tout which costs 100 Euros.

Er, just to reiterate; that's seventy quid to watch a bunch of blokes messing around playing piggy in the middle.

A few comedians and singers do a turn and some football videos are shown in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and a quarter of a million from all over Europe turn out to gawp.

A sleepy little town called Billerbeck suddenly finds itself taken aback by an invasion of 3,000 chanting Serbs materialising from out of nowhere brandishing flags and banners.

Meanwhile a mountainside sanctuary of Buhlertal dubs itself 'Absurdistan' as it suffers an even more shocking march of a thousand media men dying to hear words of insight from David Beckham.

These snapshots, taken over these last 48 hours in the life of Germany, tell of the very particular brand of barminess which only one sporting event on the planet can induce all over that planet. So welcome back to the World Cup finals, bigger, richer, madder and more hyped than ever - and that's even before Claudia Schiffer has nutmegged Pele in anger here in Munich tonight.

When the extravaganza at last kicks off with "Germany United" meeting Costa Rica in the city where he lifted the trophy for the western half of a divided country in 1974, the incredible Franz Beckenbauer - who can now claim not only to have won the event as captain and coach but to have even organised the whole elephantine exercise - will trot out his favourite breathless line that "32 billion are going to watch this month!"

Er, hold on, Franz. There are 6.5 billion people on the planet. Er, so from Tahiti to Timbuktu, on average we'll all watch five games each, will we?

Still, even if we're not sure we believe you, we know what you're getting at.

It does feel truly gigantic, with the first major batch of the supposed invasion of 1.5 million foreign visitors seemingly all piling into Munich's Hauptbahnof today. The big question though, is whether bigger will really mean better. …

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