Recession-plagued Germany plans to scrape up more than €6 billion to prepare for the soccer world championship in 2006, says Economics Minister Clement. Such an opportunity won't come up again anytime soon.
The count down has already begun for the start of the 2006 Soccer World Cup in Germany
Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement announced that the government would invest €2 billion in building stadiums, €3.9 billion in roadworks and €500 million in traffic management systems in time for sports fans to descend on this soccer-crazed nation. Clement announced his intentions at an investors conference in Leipzig aimed at making the financial most of the sporting event.
"This world championship is for the time being a singular chance to show the world our economy's power of innovation and to polish clean the 'Made in Germany' brand," Clement told the politicians, businesspeople and sportsmen and women rallying in Leipzig.
Indeed, Germany won't have a similar opportunity anytime soon. Since FIFA, the world soccer organization, chooses the sites for the tournament according to a system of rotation, Europe won't get the games again until 2030, at the earliest.
By the time the tournament starts, on June 9, 2006, in Munich's Olympic Stadium, autobahn stretches, such as the route to Prague and train lines, such as the segment between Hamburg and Berlin, should have been re-hauled. Stadiums should be linked with modern traffic-routing systems. Clement reckoned that investments related to the World Cup would total from €8-10 billion by 2010.
Wolfgang Clement, left, Michael Rogowski, and Franz Beckenbauer at the WM investment conference in Leipzig Jan. 22, 2004
He also expected that the event would spur innovation in IT and communications. In 1974, recalled Clement, television finally caught on throughout the country thanks to the Soccer World Championship, then held in Germany. He suggested that 2006 could result in a breakthrough for high resolution television.
Backing up Clement, Franz Beckenbauer, head of the organizing committee and former soccer champ, said up to 30 billion people would watch the competition on TV. Germany should make a good showing with so many people looking, he said. Aside from the TV viewers, 3.2 million guests -- two-thirds from abroad -- were expected to make their way to the World Cup.
Big players, like Adidas, one of the official sponsors of the world championship, have already staked out their shares. Adidas CEO Herbert Heiner has predicted the next few years will be good ones for the sporting goods manufacturer, thanks to the World Cup.
While Federation of German Industries head Michael Rogowski echoed the positive sentiments in Leipzig, he cautioned not to be swept away by soccer passion. Germany must continue pursuing reform to get the German economic ball rolling, he urged.
And, with contracts worth half a billion euros as yet to be awarded for the World Cup, FIFA could open the gates for other, smaller German firms to supply the tournament in addition to the select group of official partners clamouring on the pitch.