Home » 100 days until the home European Championship: “A folk festival like 2006, maybe even better”

100 days until the home European Championship: “A folk festival like 2006, maybe even better”

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100 days until the home European Championship: “A folk festival like 2006, maybe even better”

As of: March 5, 2024 11:54 p.m

Anticipation and enthusiasm for the home European Championships can only be seen in trace elements so far. But things weren’t much different before the 2006 World Cup. A review. And outlook.

In a few weeks the environment will look completely different. More colorful, more colorful. When spring reaches the Frankfurt city forest and the days become longer and warmer, the central organizational unit for the 2024 European Football Championship will be located in the two-story extension of the former DFB headquarters in the Otto-Fleck-Schneise in the middle of a green oasis of well-being.

At best, it should be something similar with the final round controlled from here (June 14th to July 14th), around which the gray veil doesn’t want to go away 100 days before the starting signal. Enthusiasm and anticipation for what is by far the biggest sporting event in Germany in the next few years can only be seen in trace elements.

Mobility and safety are coming into focus

Curious: The outside view is obviously different, as Markus Stenger, Managing Director of EURO 2024 GmbH, recently remarked at the Spobis sports business congress in Hamburg: “Abroad is incredibly excited. We feel incredibly excited – sometimes more so than at home. ”

His worry lines have also gotten a little bigger. In addition to mobility, security is “a challenging story given the geopolitical world situation,” said Stenger: “Nothing has slipped yet, but we still have a lot to do. Everything depends on security.”

Managing Director of EURO 2024 GmbH: Markus Stenger

Stiftung Warentest warned of security risks from the 2006 World Cup

Ergo, the question arises: How is the much-quoted summer fairy tale 2.0 actually supposed to come about? The answer must first be that things were hardly better at a comparable point in time before the 2006 World Cup. Stiftung Warentest sent the country into a frenzy at the beginning of the year because the new arenas built with a lot of taxpayer money allegedly had “some significant security gaps”.

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The organizing committee around the responsible vice president, Horst R. Schmidt, was extremely irritated – and in retrospect, the auditors had overshot the target by far because they derived “devastating consequences” from steps that were too short.

The national team’s 4-1 defeat in March 2006 called for consequences

But people were already complaining back then: about too many tickets for VIPs and sponsors, about alleged data leaks from the World Cup tickets and, of course, about a national team that received a blow with a 1:4 defeat against Italy in Florence that screamed for consequences. That March, Uli Hoeneß mocked the fact that Jürgen Klinsmann, as the person in charge, quickly rushed back to California instead of reporting to Germany.

To make matters worse, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich, the most important suppliers to the DFB selection, soon experienced two disillusioning nights in Turin and Milan, after which they were eliminated from the Champions League. The Bundesliga no longer seemed competitive. And yet everything was no longer an issue when, in the opening game on June 9, 2006 in Munich, defender Philipp Lahm shot the ball into the corner against Costa Rica despite a broken arm. From that day on the sun shone all over Germany. And the world was truly a guest of friends.

Philipp Lahm back in a central role

Today the World Cup artistic shooter is the European Championship tournament director. “At the 2006 World Cup, I experienced for myself how much a tournament in one’s own country can inspire people. Germany presented itself as a hospitable, modern country and a good organizer,” asserts Lahm.

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He is sure “that EURO 2024 can also be an event that inspires people in Germany and Europe and brings them together.” Everything just isn’t comparable, and that starts with the control unit, which is set up as a joint venture between the DFB and UEFA in 2024. In 2006, the German OK held most of the reins themselves. “We were able to find six partners as national sponsors,” recalls DFB President Bernd Neuendorf.

Back then, an artistic shooter at the 2006 World Cup, now the European Championship tournament director: Philipp Lahm

Bernd Neuendorf plays the healer

Just like Lahm, the association leader tries his hand at praying for health. He doesn’t like it when “the mood is ruined.” Although he objects to the idea that “football is a panacea,” this would certainly exaggerate the event, but the tournament should create “variety, confidence, joy and pride.” The former politician and journalist explained that there wouldn’t have been 150,000 applications from all over the world for the 16,000 volunteer places if “so many people didn’t want to get in touch with the tournament.”

Nevertheless, he of course notices how the “multi-crisis situation is depressing the mood”. The socio-political controversy, as many people in this country simply cannot or do not want to come together on important future issues such as energy supply, climate protection or immigration, is based on the tense world situation with the war in Ukraine and the Middle East conflict on top of that. Football is supposed to distract from that and even provide glue – even if perhaps just for one summer.

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Criticism of the federal government

The EM organizers regret that the federal government is putting the brakes on internal processes. “We could have done more with the tournament,” criticized Stenger again recently. The transport pillar is wobbling because air traffic – and not just because of the strike – feels more unreliable than ever before. Of course, the major construction sites on many highways were not cleared in time.

Which can lead to problems with the rush of so many fans in the heart of Europe. Record numbers of supporters are announced not only from neighboring countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria, but also from Croatia, Albania, Slovakia and Scotland. Host cities could experience a rush that exceeds the capacity of fan zones and city centers. But maybe everything will fit together into a happy unity.

German national team a surprise bag

Adidas boss Björn Gulden expects nothing less than “a folk festival like 2006, maybe even better.” The company boss, on whose home ground in Herzogenaurach the German national team is staying during the tournament, recalls the “bombastic atmosphere” at the recent Handball World Cup. Why shouldn’t this also shape the European Football Championship?

By the way, the Norwegian wants to bet “a bottle of wine” on the DFB team reaching the semi-finals. If you look at it soberly, the German team is a surprise bag for the next test matches in France (March 23rd) and then against the Netherlands (March 26th) and it is difficult to predict what will happen. We’ll know more in a few weeks.

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