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Enock Muchinjo recently in Germany

FOOTBALL is a common language understood by everyone the world over. For a long time Europe and South America have maintained their status as the big boys of world football

. Africa and Central America have been key players, but without success at the international level.

Asia is coming up as a football continent, with Oceania following closely behind.

In all this infatuation about the people’s game, Europe still firmly maintains its position as the central home of football in the world. My recent 2006 World Cup information tour to Germany with seven other journalists from as many countries opened up to us the passion for the game Germans have, summing up just how football is treasured in Europe.

We came face to face with the football delight on the day of our arrival in Berlin. One could be mistaken for thinking there was a festival in the city by the loud singing and cheering. Thousands of football fans filled the streets of the former West Berlin, anticipating the German Cup final between FC Schalke 04 and Bayern Munich.

Both sets of fans had made the trip for the final at the historic Olympic Stadium. The city was a sea of blue for Schalke and red for eventual victors Bayern, who came to Berlin using all forms of transport from flights, trains and buses.

We were allowed a few photo shoots with the fans despite the language barriers. Unfortunately, we were not able to go to the game as we had not made early bookings for the tickets.

The first match we watched at the ground was when Bayern played 1860 Munich in a friendly in Bayern’s new stylish home ground, the Allianz Arena. 1860 edged their more glamorous city rivals 1-0. Then last week we witnessed Germany letting in a last-grasp equaliser from Russia to draw 2-2 in Monchengladbach.

However, the trip was not an exclusively leisure outing. In fact most of the hours we spent working, meeting and interviewing a number of people involved in the World Cup, including other German sports personalities, and cultural and social activists. At the most, we had about four appointments a day, and it would eat up the whole working day if it were in Zimbabwe.

We rounded up our tour in Frankfurt, another German hub and a major centre for the World Cup. With the Confederation Cup now on in Germany, this dress rehearsal tournament for the World Cup is just what Germany needed to prove their readiness for the big one.

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