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Seeking a sellout
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 11 - 01 - 2007

The World Handball Championship in Germany is hoping to attract a record number of fans. Inas Mazhar sees whether it can be done
Just before the turn of the year, ticket No 250,000 for the World Handball Championship in Germany was sold. With less than two weeks to go before the opening match in Berlin, 50,000 tickets are left. Ticketcorner, the official ticketing partner of the German Handball Federation (DHB), is very pleased with the pre-sale figures.
Actually, the spectator attendance is even greater, since there will be a single match per day in Berlin and Halle respectively, then at least two, three, even four matches per day. It is difficult to compare with figures of previous World Championships, most of which did not have sessions of two or more matches. A comparison is only reasonable provided you calculate the spectators of each single match.
That's the way the spectator attendance of the latest World Championships has been calculated. In doing so, the 1999 WCh in Egypt achieved a record 507,800 spectators. A total of 324,000 spectators watched the matches of the 2005 title in Tunisia, and France counted 323,100 spectators in 2001. The 1997 global title contests in Japan recorded 288,555 spectators. More than 141,000 people in 29 halls watched the last World Championship tournament on German soil 25 years ago.
The Germany World Championship to be staged from 19 January to 4 February, including 92 matches, is aiming for the largest ever spectator attendance.
Spectators numbering 116,000 alone will pour into Cologne to see the finals. "The spectators' response exceeds by far what we expected", DHB Vice- President Horst Bredemeier said. "Fully packed halls act as a guarantor of a great WCh atmosphere."
Twenty--four teams will compete in 12 venues: Cologne, Hamburg, Mannheim, Dortmund, Lemgo, Wetzlar, Stuttgart, Halle, Magdeburg, Bremen, Kiel, and Berlin. The teams are divided into six groups of four teams each. Group A includes Tunisia, Slovenia, Kuwait and Greenland playing in Wetzlar. Group B has France, Iceland, Ukraine and Australia in Magdeburg.
Group C comprises Germany, Poland, Brazil and Argentine in Berlin. In Bremen, Group D is world champions Spain, the Czech Republic, Egypt and Qatar. Group E includes Denmark, Norway, Hungary and Angola and they play in Kiel while Group F includes Croatia, Russia, Morocco and South Korea in Stuttgart.
The teams ranked first and second in Groups A, B, C and E, F, G each, are put together in Groups M1 and M2 in the main round. The preliminary round results of the teams playing in the same main round group are taken into consideration.
The teams ranked third in Groups A, B, C and D, E, F are put together in Group 1 and Group 2 respectively. The teams ranked fourth in Groups A, B, C, D, E, F are put in Group 3 and Group 4. Groups 1 and 2 are to compete for places 13 to 18 while Groups 3 and 4 compete for places 19 to 24.
The teams which are ranked second to seventh in the championship will be eligible to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Egypt will warm up for the tournament with a friendly match against the host nation Germany on 13 January in Munich Olympic Hall. Before travelling to Germany Egypt organised an international handball championship in which it finished third in the four-nation event which included Russia, Serbia and the UAE. The Russians claimed the title followed by Serbia.
Alongside the German championship, the International Handball Federation is organising a sponsors' workshop for partners and sponsors in Munich on 13 January.

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