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Germany: Not so United After All
Bloomberg, June 29th, 2006 3:52PM

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This was supposed to be Germany's month, a time for the whole world to focus attention on how hospitable, proud and unified the dynamic country has become in the last 17 years. But when you take a closer look, it's the former East Germans who look to be the odd ones out, a Bloomberg report says. For one thing, 11 of the 12 tournament venues belong to the former West Germany, with Leipzig the sole exception. Of the 32 nations competing in the finals, only Germany and Ukraine chose set up their camp on the Eastern side, with the rest choosing more posh destinations like Hamburg, Cologne or Baden-Baden. "The whole thing is clearly a western show," said Lutz Vogel, 56, the mayor of Dresden, a major East German city. "We're not even substitutes in this game," he said. The World Cup also reflects Germany's economic split: the west produces 90 percent of the country's good and services, as well as most of its soccer talent. Despite Germany's $1.9 trillion investment in rebuilding East Germany, the region's unemployment is still almost double that of the west. Just one East German team, promoted Energie Cottbus, will play in the German Bundesliga next season, and only three of Germany's 23 national team players, including captain Michael Ballack, were born in the east. "It's a sad divide over soccer that reflects the grim economic realities,'' said Lutz Truemper, 50, mayor of Magdeburg, about 90 miles west of Berlin. It's very basic economics, really, Bloomberg says: all the opportunity is in the West, so anyone with ambition and education moves away from the east, to where there are more possibilities.

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