Germans Balk At Budweiser For World Cup

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The Little Abbotsford Craftbrewery
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From the Melbourne Age today:

Legions of proud German soccer fans were happy to find out they won't be forced to drink American beer in their own stadiums at the 2006 World Cup.

Germans reacted with dismay when the news broke several months ago that only beers from Anheuser-Busch, whose "Budweiser" is the most famous of its brands, could be poured in stadiums during the World Cup in Germany.

But the giant US brewery, a World Cup global sponsor, agreed to also let German brewery Bitburger pour its beer in the arenas.

"Beer is a very emotional subject here in Germany. But this deal pays for itself in other ways too. Both sides are winners here," said Dietmar Henle, spokesman for Bitburger in response to the anger of German fans who had dismissed American brands as watery and tasteless.

Here's the original story:

American beer at a German World Cup is shaping up to be just what it sounds like -- a problem. Still, sponsorships are set for the 2006 tournament and the only beer allowed within 500 meters (546 yards) of the hallowed games will be American Budweiser.

"I wouldn't wash my car with it," Bavarian Beer Club member Ottmar Riesing told the Scotsman newspaper.

Germans will drink it though, or drink nothing at all while they watch soccer's world championship on their home turf.

The large sponsorships -- Anheuser Busch reportedly paid $47 million to have Budweiser made the tournament's official beer -- have already been determined and FIFA, World Cup soccer's governing body, is standing firm.

Which isn't to say Germans aren't protesting the gastronomical disgrace they see brewing before them.

"We have a duty to public welfare and must not poison visitors to World Cup venues," said Franz Maget, leader of the Bavarian Social Democratic Party, said of what some Germans have called "beer censorship."

The beer is not only concern.

Although no final determination has been made, McDonald's is an official sponsor and may be the only food vendor allowed within World Cup venues. That could mean that World Cup games in Berlin, Munich and other German cities are played utterly without sausage -- a frontal attack on German fans.

Alternate plans abound, including "fan villages" just outside official venues, which could load up local fans with beer and wurst before they venture into the games.

Still, outrage has not abated around what Maget called "the world's worst beer" and what many Germans consider the world's most important sporting event.

Some anger is to be expected, but it is possible that Germany's national low self-esteem is contributing to the uproar.

The country has had a tough few years -- often suffering over 10 percent unemployment, watching jobs leave for Asia and Eastern Europe, struggling to complete a costly and difficult reunification, facing the impending insolvency of popular social welfare programs, and fighting to get education system back up to par.

The World Cup should be a counterbalance to Germany's widespread national pessimism.

Already, it has sparked a massive building and renovation of German soccer stadiums, an important public space in the country, but even that positive development was tainted when a large corruption scandal was discovered behind Munich's flagship new Allianz Stadium.

Set to showcase German wealth and architecture, the stadium from which the opening game of the World Cup will be broadcast worldwide became a symbol of the graft that has become a growing problem in Germany.

Contrary to stereotypes of Teutonic correctness, the country now receives strikingly average scores in international corruption measures and is struggling to keep illegal labor -- which tough regulations and high taxes exacerbate -- under control. Corruption scandals within the both major parties have further hurt Germans' self-image.

Now the Allianz Stadium will be required to change its name to the Munich Stadium or some other brandless name, since insurance giant Allianz didn't spend the money required to become an official sponsor.

Some German companies are on board as World Cup sponsors. Adidas and Deutsche Telekom are both official supporters and some regional companies will get limited advertising rights.

The message for Germans is mixed, however. The World Cup is in their country and their team is likely to do well, but the corporate representatives of their ailing economy will not be given top billing.

Germans will be forced to think about the market power of other nations while they suck down their Budweiser.

That eventuality is sure to go over hard with beer enthusiasts like Riesing, who have already begun to campaign against American beer in German stadiums.

The rules are set, however, and international sponsors are sure to make their mark on the world cup.

While that is certainly a positive development for the tournament's promoters and the international companies using the tournament to promote themselves, it will no doubt lead to plenty more German complaints along the lines of Riesing's "I wouldn't wash my car with it."

Not that that will matter much to the companies gaining international exposure far beyond the reach of any campaign by German beer drinkers, who are unlikely to get much coverage.

Even if Riesing would deign to wash his no-doubt German car with American beer, he had better not try it at a World Cup venue -- only automobiles produced by official sponsor Hyundai will be used at the games.

Backlane Brewery

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Without coming across all world-weary & well-travelled this is just what I would expect from ANY country who sees their brew hijacked by the mighty dollar.
Regardless of what we may think of Heineken, the Dutch would go ape if it was substituted like this during a world wide event. Ditto the Danes & Carlsberg, Spaniards & San Mig, Finns & Lapin Kulta, Italians & Peroni...etc the list goes on. I have been there, and drunk "local" brands with locals, who are surprisingly passionate when it comes to "their" beer.
Jeez, it was bad enough when the Melbourne Cup became the Toohey's New Melbourne Cup. ( though of course it has since been sold on to the highest bidder- aaah, tradition!).
My mental beer diary for Germany indicates the following- it was the first place I had a weissbier, that I also drank some darkish dunkel...and that it was one the parts of the world that only sold Czech Budvar, NOT US Budweiser.
And Germans have been know to riot over lack of wurst at soccer matches.

Maybe there are still enough old-school types (and no, I don't mean those short hairedyoung men or the 1939 relics with the toothbrush moustaches) over there to get this sorted, but really, what is the f^%$ing point apart from the $$$?

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