Berlin, April 16: Sweden is under pressure to withdraw its football team from the World Cup in protest at the vast number of prostitutes flocking to Germany to ply their trade.
The extraordinary call has come from Claes Borgstr'm, the Swedish equal opportunity ombudsman, who believes that it would make a bold statement against vice and the exploitation of women.
But so far, his suggestion has been rejected by the Swedish Football Association, which says boycotting the tournament would be hugely unpopular with fans and could result in the nation being excluded from future competitions.
The association has, however, given an assurance the country’s footballers will not avail themselves of any prostitutes’ services ' an undertaking Borgstr'm hopes will be emulated by other competitor countries.
It raises the unlikely spectacle of Sven-G'ran Eriksson, the England manager and a man not immune to a little philandering, being asked to lecture players including Wayne Rooney, who has admitted visiting prostitutes.
Borgstr'm said: “I’m a soccer fan, but the point is the Cup is an opportunity for men to show our abhorrence of the trade in human beings.”
Judging by the sex industry’s preparations so far, there will be no end of temptation for players and fans alike. Germany expects an influx of at least 40,000 prostitutes seeking to cash in on demand from thousands of foreign fans attending the month-long tournament, which begins in June.
Already, mobile brothels in camper vans and caravans are descending on Berlin to claim the best pitches. Many are heading for campsites, car parks and wasteland near the Olympic Stadium where the final will be held, creating a vice boom-town dubbed the “Sex Klondyke”. The newcomers are in addition to Berlin’s 8,000 licensed prostitutes.
“It is hard work ' 12-hour shifts, six days a week ' but the business is here,” said Chantelle, 21, from the Ruhr valley, who is sharing a camper van with seven other women a mile from the stadium. “If we don’t want to end up living on benefits in horrible state homes, like our parents, then we have got to do what we have got to do.”
An estimated one million men a day visit brothels legally in Germany, but business is expected to increase between 40 and 60 per cent during the tournament. Berlin is home to Europe’s biggest brothel, constructed in time for kick-off.
Police are desperate to clamp down on slave-prostitutes, smuggled from eastern Europe, and will deploy extra officers to free them and to arrest their pimps.
Unlike Germany, where 400,000 prostitutes ply their trade legally, Sweden has introduced some of Europe’s toughest laws against prostitution, targeting those buying sex rather than prostitutes, who are treated as victims.