Germany celebrates becoming world champion ... in handball

Germany celebrated on Monday becoming world champions in a previously little-watched national sport handball.

Germany won the men's world title in Cologne on Sunday, beating Poland 29-24 in the final in front of thousands of flag-waving spectators. The tournament gripped the nation and evoked memories of last summer when Germany's soccer team made it to the semifinals of the World Cup at home.

"Now we are world champions after all," read a front-page Bild headline. The Berlin tabloid BZ provided readers with a cutout walrus mustache, like that of Germany handball coach Heiner Brand.

Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated the team for its "outstanding and exciting performance," and said that handball had won "many new supporters."

Germany's soccer goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann, said in Tagesspiegel: "It is really great that the handball players were able to carry forward the enthusiasm of the soccer world championship and go one better by winning the title."

Market research agency Media Control said Monday that the television audience for the final peaked at more than 20.1 million. Germany has 82 million people, reports AP.

The title was the third for Germany and the second for Brand, who won the title as a player with Germany in 1978.

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