FIFA 2014

In their own little bubble

Germany faces Argentina on Sunday in Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, in the final of the World Cup. File photo

Germany faces Argentina on Sunday in Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, in the final of the World Cup. File photo  

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Germany’s training facility was built from scratch to meet a simple need: to keep players in good spirits

While other teams fretted over flying vast distances in a country the size of a continent, Germany’s response to the logistical challenges of a Brazilian World Cup was simple yet brutal. Group games in Salvador, Fortaleza and Recife? In that case, the Germans said, we’ll build our own place in the middle.

And so was constructed the secluded $40m Campo Bahia, a made-to-order training facility two hours by air from all three venues.

Like Kubla Khan’s “stately pleasure-dome”, Germany’s World Cup base in the north-east state of Bahia is a footballing Xanadu. Built on the beachside in Santo Andre, a fishing village of some 3000 people, the 3.7 acre resort has 14 two-storey houses, a swimming pool, a spa, a practice pitch with grass cut to match tournament standards, a gym and an auditorium to host the press.

“The press conference marquee has the flavour of an expensive Frankfurt convention centre, with a huge Mercedes ad, Adidas mannequins and neon lighting,” writes Simon Hart in The Independent. “For the German press, meanwhile, there is a McDonald’s café transported lock, stock and barrel across the Atlantic, with tall, blonde waitresses flown in from Berlin and Frankfurt. Talk about German efficiency.”

Ahead of the World Cup, the German Football Association (DFB) flew in 23 tonnes of luggage and equipment, according to AFP. It included mountain bikes, table tennis boards, billiards and snooker tables (separate), and even dart boards. The DFB also sent a 33-strong support team, including two cooks.

Underpinning the scale of the project and all its frightening attention-to-detail is a seemingly simple need: to keep players in good spirits. With the express intention of building team harmony, the DFB housed six players in one ‘villa’, deliberately clustering together those from different clubs, age-groups and backgrounds.

“The base camp could be described as an experiment in social engineering,” Raphael Honigstein writes on the ESPN website. “(Team manager, Oliver) Bierhoff and (head coach, Joachim) Low were at pains not to repeat the mistakes of 2012, when the team had broken into different cliques. The idea this time was to force them to live together in close proximity.”

Going by the evidence on the pitch, at least, the move has worked. “We are incredibly happy that we have had these facilities,” the defender Benedikt Howedes told the German press. “We have developed a team spirit that has been very good for us. It’s been perfect.”

Built by a Munich-based firm, the “sport and nature” resort, hailed by the developer as a sustainable and ecologically sensitive project, will operate commercially after the World Cup. Should Germany triumph on Sunday, an aggressive sales pitch may not be necessary.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 11:45:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/fifa-2014/in-their-own-little-bubble/article6204738.ece

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