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April 10th, 2005

World Cup 2006 Emblem     Official World Cup 2006 Poster

Fourteen months from now the world will be once again regaled by the spectacle of the beautiful game – the FIFA World Cup. This event happens only once in every four years. After Japan and Korea in 2002, the next World Cup is hosted by one of the footballing giants of the world – Deutschland. The thrill and world cup fever is fast rising in Europe, Latin and North America, Africa and Asia as qualifying matches are now already being played.

The Chancellor of the host country Germany, Gerhard Schröder, gave the following poignant remarks about the global passion for football and their country’s hosting of this great event:

The world as Germany’s guest

Gerhard SchröderOn 8 June 2006, it is time. This date marks the start of the FIFA World Cup here in Germany. It will be the biggest international event held in Germany for years. The world will be our guest, and for four whole weeks the world will be looking at Germany. More than 30 billion viewers on all continents will be following the 64 games in the twelve World Cup stadiums on television. This is reason enough, not only during the tournament, but also in the run-up to it, to make every effort to ensure that our country shows its best side: enthusiastic about football, but most of all, hospitable, open to the world, tolerant, modern, innovative.

The main focus of the World Cup 2006 is, of course, the sport: football. Football is perhaps the only truly global sport. It awakens emotions and passion; it creates identifications; it connects different cultures, languages, religions. And great footballers – Jaschin, Puskas, di Stefano, Eusebio, Pele, Beckenbauer, Maradonna, Zidane or Ronaldo – are much more than national idols. They are quite simply symbols of football – they don’t belong to a club or country: they belong to football and fans from across the globe.

A successful English trainer once said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death… [but it is] much more important than that.” I believe, with all respect to this trainer strategist, that such a statement cannot be allowed to stand. For a start, football is not a game of life and death, but a game of two goals; or sometimes even, a game of just one goal.

The following is an important point: when it comes to football, it is impossible to be indifferent. There are those who are really infected by football; those who suffer from football fever. And there are those who say they are “immune” to football. My prognosis: once the World Cup in Germany has kicked off, hardly anyone will be able to resist the fascination of football.

Expectations of the great football festival in our country are high, especially after the exciting European Cup last year in Portugal. All football fans are looking forward to brilliant playing, surprising moves, tactical finesse, tension and entertainment. And no doubt, at times, we will have to put up with football being played using negative tactics. What we are really hoping for, however, is adventurous football, passionate football.

Preparations for World Cup 2006 are well underway; the stadiums are almost ready. Now it is time for, as it were, for the warm-ups to begin. The final trials for the so-called small World Cup, the Confederation Cup, will be held in summer 2005. Then, in December, the groups will be drawn in Leipzig, then the last trials will be held before the whistle is blown to start the opening game with the German national team in Munich.

Jürgen Klinsmann and his team of trainers have ambitious aims for the young team. They want to play for the title and become world champions. And that’s the right approach. Without doubt, enthusiasm and support from their own country will help them achieve this aim. I, at any rate, will be keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Gerhard Schröder

The countdown for World Cup 2006 begins!

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