Word of the Week: Fanmeile

Jun 20, 2014

Fanmeile Enlarge image (© dpa) During big televised sporting events - like the World Cup - thousands of Germans gather in the streets to watch the games together on large screens throughout the city. They will usually be waving flags, cheering and sporting their favorite team's colors. In German, this sort of area is called a Fanmeile ("fan mile") - a public space that is transformed during significant sporting events.

With the 2014 World Cup currently underway, Fanmeilen are popping up all over Germany. This summer in Berlin, the street between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column has been transformed into a massive Fanmeile, complete with food and drink stands; television screens air the games while up to 100,000 people gather on the street to watch.

A Fanmeile is sometimes also referred to as a "public viewing", which Germans use to describe places that air sports games. But while a public viewing can also take place in a smaller locale such as a bar, restaurant, school or church, Fanmeilen are large-scale outdoor regions that typically accomodate thousands of people.

Fanmeilen originated in Germany during the 2006 World Cup, which means they are still relatively new. In 2006, Germany hosted the World Cup - but not everyone could get tickets. FIFA-sponsored Fanmeilen were therefore set up for people without tickets to watch the games. The concept was a huge success, and the screenings became events in themselves - especially the screening of the Germany vs. Argentina game in the 2006 World Cup quarter-finale. The longest Fanmeile was located in Berlin and brought together 900,000 soccer enthusiasts.

Consequentially, the word Fanmeile was selected by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache as the 2006 Word of the Year.

Fanmeile Enlarge image (© picture alliance/Eventpress) Berlin's Fanmeile is still the largest public viewing area in Germany - and the number of fans will surely increase if Germany makes it into the finals this summer. Additionally, Fanmeilen have popped up all over Europe - including countries like Austria and Switzerland.

Whether or not you're a soccer fan, make sure to check out a Fanmeile if you're in Germany. It's the experience that counts.

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

© Germany.info

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