Germany is braced for an influx of not only three million football fans to next year's World Cup but also thousands of illegal sex workers from eastern Europe.
Prostitution at the World Cup is raising fears of human trafficking
Fears have been voiced by women's groups, church leaders and trade unionists that up to 40,000 women from eastern Europe could be smuggled into Germany to work as prostitutes during the tournament that takes place in 12 cities in June and July.
"It goes without saying that the World Cup is a great opportunity to make money," said Katharina Cetin, an official at the Hydra prostitute advice center in Berlin. "We expect some great revenues. It'll be good business."
But there are fears that many of the women who end up working in the sex trade at the 2006 World Cup will have been coerced into prostitution or duped by criminal gangs.
Solwodi, an organization that comes to the aid of women in difficulty, said that many of the illegal prostitutes would come into the country recruited under false pretences, attracted by offers of jobs as baby-sitters, bar workers or waitresses.
Some women have been forced to work the streets by gangsters
"We don't know exactly how many women could be forced into prostituting themselves," said Brunhilde Raiser, head of the national council of women in Germany that has launched a campaign dubbed "red card to forced prostitution."
"But what is sure is that prostitution will increase enormously," Raiser said.
German soccer team asked for its support
To ramp up public support for its red card campaign, the national council of women has asked players from the German national football team to take part.
"As a member of the German national team, you are a model for many men in this country and you know that your choice often counts for more than that of politicians," the council said in its letter to goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. "Say to those that think themselves 'real men' that 'real men' are rightly against trade in women and forced prostitution."
Jens Lehmann has been the only German squad member to support the campaign
Kahn's main rival for the starting goalkeeper's position, Jens Lehmann (photo), has been the only one to reply so far, the council admitted.
"He said he would speak to his colleagues," Raiser said. "We haven't heard anything from him since and all the others are silent."
As for the German football federation (DFB), president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder said in a letter to the former minister for families, Renate Schmidt, that neither the DFB nor the World Cup organizing committee wanted to be "active" in the campaign.
"We receive demands for support every day," Mayer-Vorfelder said.
Businesses looking to capitalize on prostitution
Germany legalized prostitution in designated areas in 2001
But while concerns remain over the unwanted influx, entrepreneurs are working hard to capitalize on the business of sex in a country where prostitution was legalized in 2001 -- but only in designated areas.
Cologne and Dortmund, two of the host cities for the World Cup, have even erected a number of wooden "sex huts" for the football showpiece with condoms and showers at hand. The idea is to keep the prostitutes and their clients away from public places. Berlin is considering following suit.
"It is better than having the couples in public areas," said Dirk Lamprecht, a member of the administrative council in Berlin.
In Berlin itself, a five-million-euro brothel has just opened in 3,000 square meters of a refurbished warehouse just three train stops from the main World Cup venue, the Olympic Stadium.
The four-story building will accommodate up to 100 prostitutes and 650 male clients. Its owners will demand that its sex workers provide their tax number and proof of permission to work in the European Union.
"We didn't even think about that when we started the project," Norman Jacob, a lawyer for the brothel operators, said of the World Cup.
"But obviously it's very nice for us that it is happening. Business will be booming. Football and sex belong together," he told the newsmagazine Der Spiegel.