'There's so much interest. Attendances are massive!'
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Saturday 09 July 2011
Fifa probably wishes it could hold every tournament in Germany.
As concerns grow over the readiness of Brazil to host the 2014 World Cup, the current edition of the women's event is gathering plaudits, crowds and viewers with record domestic television audiences watching the host nation in action during the group stages. Germany's quarter-final with Japan tonight is expected to log the best audience figures yet.
The 2006 men's tournament in Germany is seen as a model event and this one is following suit. The success of Germany 2011 is welcome and timely for a world governing body that has also been dogged by accusations of corruption. With pre-tournament ticket sales topping 75 per cent, the organisers had cause for optimism but what has come as a surprise is the TV audience. The opener between Germany and Canada, played in front of 73,000 in Berlin, earned an audience share of 60 per cent on German TV. Its average audience of 15.4m bettered the number that watched the men's match against Serbia in South Africa last year. The figure was double the number of German viewers who watched the European Grand Prix on the same day. Even North Korea against Sweden earned a 20 per cent share in Germany.
On German TV, England's matches have been watched by an average of four million. "There's so much interest," said Anita Asante, the England midfielder. "The attendances have been absolutely massive. People are coming up to us in the street and wishing us good luck. We have seen the viewing figures across Europe and it's amazing. Hopefully that's a sign of things to come for the women's game."
Yesterday the BBC belatedly promoted its coverage of England's quarter-final against France today to BBC2. It had been scheduled to be accessed via the red button as the corporation were already showing the Scottish Open golf on BBC1 and claimed it did not want to show sport on both main channels simultaneously. Yesterday evening, however, it bowed to what it described as "audience interest" and replaced repeats of Porridge and Flog It! with live coverage of the match.
It followed pressure from Andy Burnham, the shadow education secretary, and the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, who is also an FA-qualified coach, to bring the match into the mainstream. Both contacted Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general, to ask him to rethink the scheduling.
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