BERLIN (AP) — The fan mile near the German capital’s famous Brandenburg Gate was full hours before the World Cup final kicked off in Brazil between Germany and Argentina.
A heavy rain shower sent fans scampering for cover early but a crowd re-emerged in greater numbers Sunday getting ready to watch the game in front of giant TV screens. Police closed a number of entrances to the “fan mile” at least four hours before kickoff due to the sheer numbers of fans attending. With three hours to go, police said it was full.
It was raining persistently by this time and thunder was rumbling ominously overhead.
A spokeswoman told German news agency DPA that more than 250,000 people had crowded onto the 1.2 kilometer stretch of road through the Tiergarten. Crowds began gathering with around six hours to go.
Other public viewing venues were also filling up, despite the likelihood of heavy rain across the country. Showers and summer storms were expected to move in from the southwest.
Not everyone was supporting Germany. A Berlin tax-driver with an Argentina flag flying from his window riled fans on Kastanienallee Street in Prenzlauer Berg by beeping at them as he passed.
“I’ve been cursed at and spat upon,” Cihan Goz told The Associated Press, laughing as he relayed the story. He said he was a fan of Maradona, revered among Argentines as the world’s best ever player. Coz was still picking up passengers despite the flag.
At Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana Stadium on Sunday, Germany is bidding to win its fourth World Cup title, its first as a reunified country.
West Germany’s triumph in 1990 came several months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which passed in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
“Mauerfall” will be marked later this year with 25th anniversary celebrations, although the area would stage more celebrations on Tuesday if Germany beats Argentina.
If victorious, coach Joachim Loew’s team is scheduled to present the World Cup trophy to fans at the Brandenburg Gate. General manager Oliver Bierhoff said, however, there would be no party with the fans unless Germany wins the title.