Sunday February 25, 2024

Germany look to legacy of 2006 ‘fairytale’ at Euro 2024

December 02, 2023

HAMBURG: Struggling on the field, Germany has declared their readiness for Euro 2024, with the hosts proudly reliant on the infrastructure put in place for the 2006 World Cup.

With full stadiums and excellent weather, the 2006 tournament showcased a unified Germany to the world and became dubbed the Summer Fairy Tale (Sommermaerchen) at home.

With just six-and-a-half months until the June 14 kickoff, the lead-up has been dominated by talk of the misfiring national side, who have won just three of 11 games in 2023.

Germany fans cheer during an international friendly match against Mexico at Lincoln Financial Field stadium in Philadelphia in October. —AFP File
Germany fans cheer during an international friendly match against Mexico at Lincoln Financial Field stadium in Philadelphia in October. —AFP File 

While some fear an embarassing early exit on home soil, Germany has made their readiness to host the tournament a point of pride, albeit amid concerns about delays on the national rail network.

With Germany boasting dozens of world-class venues, the hosts stated proudly that no new stadiums were built ahead of Euro 2024.

At a ´One Year to go´ event in Berlin in June, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters “it is something special that everything does not have to be newly built”.

“The stadiums are there.” The Euro 2024 infrastructure relies heavily on that of the 2006 World Cup, which still remains a symbol of national pride across Germany 18 years on.

Eight of the 10 World Cup 2006 venues will host games at Euro 2024: Berlin, Munich, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne and Leipzig. Duesseldorf and Gelsenkirchen, home to German giants Schalke, have also been added as host cities.

Euro 2024 will be the first time a unified Germany will host the tournament, with West Germany having hosted Euro 1988. As with the 2006 World Cup, however, Leipzig is the only host city from the former East.

Most of the stadiums are still in excellent condition ahead of Euro 2024, with only Stuttgart´s Neckarstadion undergoing major renovation work. The improvements on the stadium in south-western Germany, which was originally built for the 1974 World Cup, have cost 130 million euros and are set to finish in January 2024.

Sustainability has been a major theme in Germany ahead of Euro 2024, particularly amid criticism aimed at the environmental impact of multi-country tournaments.

Scholz in June called the tournament “a home game for Europe”, a sly critique at the trend towards hosting the tournament across more than one country.

Euro 2020, played in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic, took place across 11 different countries from Scotland to Azerbaijan. In order to limit travel, Germany has created three geographical zones for the group stage at Euro 2024, allowing teams to choose one base camp location.

Teams will play in either northern Germany in Berlin, Hamburg and Leipzig, western Germany in Cologne, Duesseldorf, Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund, or southern Germany´s host cities of Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.

With Germany qualified as host, a further 20 countries have already booked their ticket for Euro 2024. The final three places will be decided through a knockout tournament in March 2024.

The first round of ticket sales took place from October to November, with 1.2 million spectators securing a spot. The allocation clearly outstripped demand, with more than 20 million requests made even before fans knew who would be playing.

A further one million tickets will go on sale on Monday after Saturday´s draw to the 21 qualified federations. Once the last three teams have qualified, the final tickets will go on sale.

In total, 2.7 million spectators are expected to attend the 51 matches of Euro 2024. In a bid to reduce tournament´s carbon footprint, organisers have sought to minimise internal car travel and flights.

The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) estimates 70 percent of spectators will use public transport to and from the stadium.

Match tickets allow free travel on public transport for a 36-hour period, from 6am on matchday until 6pm the following day. Ticket holders will also be entitled to discounted InterRail passes to travel across Germany to attend the matches -- with transit between host cities made easier by the three geographic groupings. Germany´s Deutsche Bahn national rail service, a major sponsor of the tournament, expects tens of thousands of additional travellers for the tournament.