Soccer Fans in Berlin Await World Cup Final
SHEILAH KAST, host:
France or Italy? One will win the title of World Cup Soccer champion at a match scheduled for this evening in Berlin. Germany won third place yesterday by beating Portugal 3-1. Even though their team did not make the final, many Germans are happy with the way the tournament went, from the games to the organization. NPR's Emily Harris just visited the main fan area in Berlin, a closed off street lined with big TV screens for those who don't have tickets to the game.
Emily, game time is fast approaching. What's the scene like at the fan area?
EMILY HARRIS reporting:
Well, when I was down there, it was Germany, Germany, Germany. You might've thought that Germany actually won the final, but they're not even playing in the final. The German team, which won third place last night, beating Portugal 3-1, came down to the center - central fan area to say thank you. They were wearing T-shirts that say danke on them, and the whole area was just a complete sea of German flags and German-colored hats and face paint and shorts and t-shirts and the whole bit, even though it's France and Italy tonight.
KAST: And so where did the France and Italian fans fit in or are they not even noticeable?
HARRIS: Well, as I was leaving the packed German area, you could see lots of French and Italian t-shirts and flags, people wearing these obviously, people wearing T-shirts in the French colors and flags in the Italian colors streaming onto that central area. So they're definitely coming in and getting in place. People have come from a long way away. I talked to one French fan who flew in from Hong Kong last night just to see the game and they will certainly be making their presence known during the actual match. The 70,000-seat Olympia Stadion is expected to be packed, of course.
KAST: And what is tonight's game expected to be like?
HARRIS: Well, a lot of people are, especially the German fans who don't have a team in this final round, are mostly hoping for some - just some really good soccer. Soccer experts that I talked to say either Italy or France could pull off this win. Italy is considered to be a stronger team by some, but France has their star, Zinedine Zidane, who's retiring and this will be his last game and there's a lot of emotion around that.
France has also played really well in this tournament, started off badly, but got better and has beaten Italy the last two times, last big games that the two countries faced off. So it's up in the air. It would not be the first time either team has won the World Cup. France won once in 1998 and Italy won it three times, twice back in the 1930s and then most recently in 1982. But both teams definitely really want it tonight.
KAST: And do German fans seem to have a favorite between France and Italy?
HARRIS: You know, some German fans say they want France to win because Italy is the country that knocked Germany out in the semi-finals. Others say they don't really care, they just want to see a good game, and actually a lot of Germans I talked to are already talking about World Cup 2010, which will be held in South Africa and they say that one's going to be ours, that one's going to be ours. So they're looking ahead already.
KAST: NPR's Emily Harris in Berlin reporting on the fans waiting to see which team will be World Cup soccer champions. Thanks.
HARRIS: Thanks, Sheilah.
KAST: How closely have you been following the World Cup so far? There's a quiz at NPR.org.
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