BERLIN (AP) — FIFA’s decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar in winter means thousands of German soccer fans will have to skip their traditional big fan mile viewing party at the Brandenburg Gate. from Berlin.
Berlin’s local environment authority told the DPA news agency on Saturday that it was unlikely to approve the special exemptions needed to stage such an event, while the managing director of the organizing company said said it was not feasible this year.
Willy Kausch, the KIT Group CEO, said it was difficult to organize the fan mile during the Christmas market season and the uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic added to the obstacles.
“We decided not to,” Kausch said.
The fan mile had become a key part of the German fans’ World Cup experience – a mile-long stretch of food and drink vendors with large screens showing matches – attracting hundreds of thousands of fans. fans at previous World Cup tournaments.
Around 9 million supporters took part in the fan mile when Germany hosted the tournament in 2006. When Germany won the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, Joachim Löw’s team presented the trophy to fans during the fan mile in front of the Brandenburg Gate. He last hosted the fan mile in 2018, when the mood was a bit more subdued as Germany crumbled as defending champions.
FIFA decided in 2015 to move the World Cup – traditionally held in summer – to winter due to scorching heat in Qatar, which won the tournament in 2010 amid corruption allegations. US prosecutors say bribes were paid to members of FIFA’s executive committee to secure their votes for Qatar.
German football federation president Theo Zwanziger strongly criticized the decision at the time and was subsequently the subject of a multi-year covert influence operation funded by Qatar and run by former operatives of the CIA to try to change his mind. It failed.
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