Globetrotting Germans dig deep for Brazilian adventure

Thu May 22, 2014 10:35am EDT
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - For globetrotting Germans who love to travel and love soccer, the World Cup in Brazil could be about as close to paradise as many might come.

Some like Alex Schmeichel and six friends will spend 10,000 euros ($13,700) each - some taking out loans worth as much as a small car - to follow Germany around Brazil next month when the three-time World Cup winners try to win an elusive fourth title.

"It's money well-invested," said Schmeichel, who works in public relations in Berlin. "It's an investment in our good health. We'll have a great time cheering Germany to the title and we'll come back refreshed and more productive in our jobs."

But Schmeichel and police officer Matthias Mueller, fitness trainer Lars Knobel, student Marius Purschke, property manager Tino Knobel, soccer coach Stephen Howaldt and Dirk Warner do not want to think of the hangover they might get if Germany fall short again. Winners in 1990, Germany lost the 2002 final and were knocked out in the semi-finals in 2006 and 2010.

With typical German thoroughness, the friends began planning for their five-week Brazil holiday more than a year ago. Last September they booked their accommodation and flights.

Germany are in Group G along with Portugal, Ghana and the United States. Their group matches will be staged in Salvador, Fortaleza and Recife.

"We're all confident the soccer god will be with Germany this time around," said Schmeichel, 39, who once played for third division side Reinickendorfer Fuechse in Berlin. "We've been meticulously planning the whole thing for over a year."

While Germany is considered a wealthy country by most standards, the average annual wage of ordinary workers is 34,000 euros. So many German fans heading for Brazil could be spending a quarter to a third of their annual salary for the World Cup.   Continued...

Gabriel, 14, plays soccer on graffiti painted with the official match ball for the 2014 World Cup named "Brazuca" on a street in Sao Paulo May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Nacho Doce