The Most important effect was not necessarily an economic one. Of course, we invested in stadiums and we invested in the infrastructure as well. However, the most important effect was the improvement in mood. Also the symbol that Germany is able to host such an event and that we are funny, friendly and we could be a very nice hosting country. Also it was important for the German identity. What we saw all over the streets were the flags and caps, which united Germany.
Q2. Germany’s perception abroad had been changed by the opportunities that hosting the 2006 World Cup presented. Were there measures taken within Germany to help present a fresh perspective to the world and to try and restore a sense of national pride that may otherwise have been absent since reunification?
What we had learned is that Germany could do a lot and if we work together and try to be a perfect host for this event. We can see that there is a debate also ongoing in the society concerning the economic measures taken to host the event. Overall we are able to show that we can be very friendly hosts, and that has changed the image of Germany. Sport is very important. I sometimes say that a very successful soccer team is probably even more successful than a Member of Parliament concerning diplomatic matters because they are able, through the medium of sport, to paint another picture of Germany to the world.
Q3. There has been evidence in the past that sporting events are successful in promoting better cultural relations in the past. How you might characterise the possible achievements in a country like South Africa which has suffered some serious divisions under the Apartheid regime?
I hope the same improvement in cultural relations within South Africa will take place. South Africans will have pride in their national team irrespective of race, ethnicity and geographic region. Through the victories or defeats, they can develop a sense of solidarity. Even if the team is defeated, and Germany has been defeated in many soccer world cups as you probably know, and to see, as in the example you mentioned, that the Turkish and the Turkish immigrant population and the Germans reciprocally support one another’s team. Such a cultural understanding was achieved through sport as cultural diplomacy. This is a very important thing what you mentioned for the cultural and the definitive identity. As a country, you need sports events and cultural events to unite under a common goal.
Q4. What can be done to promote closer economic ties between African countries and Germany? In the case of South Africa is it also essential for reform to take place within South Africa in terms of education to attract investment from abroad?
Firstly, we hope that this World Cup will send a positive image of Africa to Europe which is the major selling point as if the Europeans see there is no crime and robbery, that everything runs smoothly, they will view it as a stable country and could invest there. Secondly, the German government will employ a new strategy with regard to Africa. We will have a new African policy concept presented in fall this year in which we would like to open and reopen new trade chambers. We have a very successful one in South Africa and also in Nigeria. But looking towards the whole continent, we really would like to open new ones. A new chamber has been opened in Angola and I hope that others will follow. We would therefore like to promote trade and investment. There are many non-governmental organisations who invite investment to South Africa and to African countries by promoting the new opportunities of renewable energy. One is to tackle the image; the other is to strengthen trade relations.
Interview conducted by Peter Hanley