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Sports

German Soccer Fans Flex Their Muscles

Not every soccer fan's wishes came true in the first half of the Bundesliga season, but German soccer officials surprised supporters by acting on their requests.

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Germany's soccer fans had a lot to smile about this week

Many German soccer fans would rather be shouting themselves hoarse in a frigid stadium than listening to the cheers of children around the Christmas tree on Saturday. They shouldn't be surprised over decisions this week to make the game more fan-friendly -- it was the record 6.122 million tickets they bought that made their voices heard.

The host of next summer's World Cup tournament will demolish last season's Bundesliga record attendance of 11.569 million, if fans infected with soccer fever continue filing into the new and newly renovated stadiums.

Premiere bald Pleite?

Premiere will still be able to broadcast some World Cup matches

In addition to a week of excellent German Cup soccer on the field, fans also greeted a German Soccer League (DFL) decision to award 1.26 billion euros ($1.49 billion) worth of Bundesliga broadcast right to a consortium of cable operators for the next three years, ditching long-time partner Premiere, Germany's pay-TV network.

Highlights a "focal poi n t for family"

Fans will still have to pay a subscription fee to see the games live, but the public TV highlight show, "Sportschau," will continue to be shown shortly after the matches.

Premiere was willing to pay more for the broadcast rights but only if the highlights were relegated to a late-night time slot.

"Keeping 'Sportschau' on at this time is a victory for the fans," Eintracht Frankfurt chairman Heribert Bruchhagen told the SID sports news agency.

He called the show a focal point for German families and reminisced about his memories in front of the television.

"I'd always watch the show between six and eight o'clock with my brother," he said. "Mama cooked and we watched the soccer."

But there was more at play than just love for the fans, league boss Werner Hackmann added. Changing the broadcast time would have made it less attractive to advertisers and would end up costing the league's teams more in the long run.

No World Cup ticketi n g fee

WM Tickets

FIFA won't take your money, if you don't have one of these

Fans chalked up a second victory when World Cup organizers agreed not to charge the millions of soccer fans who applied for, but were not awarded, tickets to the tournament, which runs from June 9 to July 9.

The World Cup Organizing Committee (OK) gave in to demands from a German consumer advocacy group that had taken it to court. The deal, which will protect organizers from fans' scorn, could cost planners as much as 1 million euros ($1.18 million), according to OK Vice President Horst Schmidt.

Judges in Frankfurt were scheduled to decide on the legality of the five euro ticketing fee this week but asked the parties to reach a settlement rather than force the court to issue a judgement.

Demand for tickets has massively outpaced supply, partly because only around one-third of them were put on sale to the public, while the rest went to national and international soccer officials and sponsors.

Fans will have until April 15 to request a refund for the handling fee.

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