Thursday, December 29, 2005

German National Tourist Board hosts FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany

The world is watching Germany who opened its doors to the World Cup visitors for the first time when the final draw took place in Leipzig, which is one of the twelve host cities. The final draw ensures people all over the world that Germany is a modern, vibrant and hospitable country. Thousands of locals built a band around the city to show solidarity and welcomed all visitors and VIP guests to a special celebration and atmosphere.

'A time to make friends' is the official motto for the FIFA World Cup 2006TM and Germany is awaiting a lot of visitors from all over the world. 32 national teams will battle for the FIFA World Cup in 12 cities in Germany starting 9th June-9th July, 2006. Franz Beckenbauer will host the event and lots of cultural activities will take place. The 2006 FIFA World Cup is expected to generate an extra 1, 7 million stays across 2006 as a whole. At present, the tourism industry is well prepared to welcome its International visitors. Germany looks forward to this event as a great opportunity to showcase its culture and hospitality.

She further added, 'In the beginning of December 2005, GNTB has launched a special national campaign to promote service and friendliness. This campaign is an initiative of the organization committee of FIFA World Cup and the German National Tourist Board and will seek to encourage fine and best service within all the involved people. Starting from taxi drivers to the entire travel industry, GNTB will create a very high service commitment and there will be a lot of competitions to find the best one in his/her branch of trade. This promotion is aiming for a better image of Germany as a travel destination before, during and long lasting after the FIFA World Cup 2006TM''

Thursday, December 22, 2005

World Cup organisers to refund ticket service charge

World Cup organisers agreed on Tuesday to refund the five euro ($5.99) fee to fans applying unsuccessfully for returned tickets to next year's finals, following a legal challenge from Germany's consumer association.

An extra sales phase for the 2006 World Cup in Germany gave fans the chance to put their names on a waiting list for any returned tickets from national associations, sponsors or partners.

Those applying had to pay a five euro fee, plus the price of one ticket up front. Unsuccessful applicants were due to get only the ticket charge back after the finals, while the service charge was non-refundable.

Germany's consumer association launched a legal challenge against those conditions of sale and after talks on Tuesday, organisers agreed to refund the ticket money and the service charge to applicants who have received no tickets by Apr. 15.

A Frankfurt court had been due to rule on the challenge this month.

The European Commission is also looking into similar complaints about the way the conditional tickets are being sold.

Ticket offers for the World Cup, which begins on June 9 and runs until July 9, have been massively oversubscribed. The final main sales window is open until Jan. 15, with 250,000 tickets on offer. A ballot will then decide which fans secure seats.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Australians snap up 2006 World Cup tickets

Australian football fans on Tuesday snapped up the full allocation of 8,500 World Cup tickets in an instant when they went on sale electronically.

There were more than 14,000 applications for tickets to next year's event in Germany, Football Federation Australia (FFA) officials said, but FFA chief executive John O'Neill said it had proven impossible to get more tickets from FIFA, the world football organizing body.

"We're not in a sufficiently influential position, particularly being the last team to qualify, to change the system," he said, "and it's not to say that we're sitting here criticizing the system. We're simply saying that we do feel sorry, deeply sorry,
and disappointed that we can't satisfy all the people from the football family here who want to go and see Australia play."

He defended a welter of criticism of the first-come, first-served system that favoured those with the fastest computer mouse click.

"It's been a process that has integrity, a process that is as open and transparent as it possibly could have been," O'Neill said. "Everyone's been given an equal chance."

FFA spokesman Stuart Hodge said the FIFA system had been designed to make scalping difficult.

"It works against scalping because you have to supply your passport details and then they will ask you for your passport details at the turnstiles to verify it," Hodge said.

Australia's games in the round-robin stage are against Japan, Brazil and Croatia in Kaiserslautern, Munich and Stuttgart, respectively.

O'Neill said FFA was close to finalizing arrangements for a World Cup base camp in Bavaria in southern Germany.

Australian fans complained that hotels in Kaiserslautern, Munich and Stuttgart were booked out just minutes after the draw was announced or have hiked their prices.

"Getting the game tickets was the easy part," fan Mark Bowman told The Sydney Morning Herald. "The biggest problem is the hotels. All the accommodation websites show sudden increases, miraculously right when the football is on."

Traute Tuckfeld of the German National Tourist Office in Sydney said it was impossible to prevent hoteliers from increasing prices when demand is high.

"Of course prices are higher than normal," she said. "If there is a trade fair in Germany, then the prices are higher."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Angolan President invited to Germany 2006 World Cup

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was on Wednesday invited by the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 2006 World Cup, Franz Beckenbauer, to go to Germany to watch the premier tournament.

Beckenbauer, speaking to journalists at the end of a 30-minute audience which was attended by Angolan minister of Youth and Sports, Marcos Barrica, and chairman of the Angolan Football Federation (FAF), Justino Fernandes, said: "Naturally I invited him".

"I think that the president will want to check the results of Angola in the first stage. If they (results) are satisfactory and Angola is through to the next stage, I am sure he will go to Germany,"said Beckenbauer.

In his brief interview he also mentioned that "it was a great honor to be welcomed by the President of the Republic, a very kind person, with great personality and a lover of football".

During the audience Beckenbauer assured:"We will welcome Angola in a cordial way, similarly to what we are going to do with all those that will travel to the World Cup in Germany".

Beckenbauer arrived Tuesday in Luanda, from Tunisia, and he travels today to Togo, his third stage of his tour of Africa that is aimed at presenting formally the invitation to the countries that qualified for the World Cup finals.

Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire will complete the group of the five African countries qualified for this competition.

Angola, the first time to play in World Cup, has been drawn in Group D, with Iran, Mexico and Portugal. Angola's first match will be against Portugal on July 11.

Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup Germany 2006 Groups

Former Socceroo says Australia faces a horror draw for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Australia is in Group F with Brazil (ranked number 1 in the world), Japan (ranked 15) and Croatia (ranked 20).

The 2006 World Cup will be held in Germany with the first round matches starting in June. Coincidentally the last time we qualified, Germany was the host nation as well.

Back in 1974, our Socceroos also held down full-time jobs. Their results? A 3-0 defeat at the hands of eventual winners West Germany, a 2-0 defeat against East Germany and a 0-0 draw against Chile.

We're currently ranked 49 (according to the FIFA website). How will we go this time?

Former Socceroo and Perth Glory Coach Gary Marrochi reckons we've got the "horror draw".

Brazil are favourites and while we have played them recently, Gary doesn't believe we've played their full-strength side. Still, on the bright side, he says it will be a fantastic thing for the players to talk about with their grandkids - that they got to play Brazil in the World Cup.

Gary says Japan is not easy either, doing well in the last World Cup in 2002 which they hosted along with South Korea.

"You've got to be realistic and we are drawn in a very tough group. If we can get a win against Japan and a draw against Croatia we may be able to sneak into round 16."

Groups E and C also look tough to Gary. E is probably the toughest with Italy (12), USA (8), Czech Republic (2) and Ghana (ranked 50).

In Group C, Gary says don't underestimate Serbia and Montenegro who finished ahead of Spain in the qualifiers.

Of the other groups, Gary says England and Germany must be pretty happy with their draws, and France and Spain have a relatively easy run as well.

Is he going to Germany? He's been on the internet already to try and get tickets.

So what will it be like for the players? Gary never played in a World Cup but did play against Iran in 1975 in front of 100,000 people. He reckons it was pretty frightening but he still treasures the experience.

Will soccer take off in Australia now we've made it back into the World Cup? Gary thinks the administration is heading in the right direction and hopes the World Cup will be the catalyst soccer needs. He has every confidence in administrator John O'Neill who, he says, has done wonderful things for Rugby Union.

So given the draw, what are our chances of making it through to the next round? 40:60 says Gary. "We've got some very good players and now we've got an extremely experienced coach. I think we can beat Croatia and we can beat Japan."

We have beaten four former world champions in the last five years: France, Brazil, England and, of course, Uruguay.

The World Cup Draw

The teams' world ranking as of November 2005 in brackets.

-Group A-

Germany (16)
Costa Rica (21)
Poland (23)
Ecuador (37)

-Group B-

England (9)
Paraguay (30)
Trinidad & Tobago (51)
Sweden (14)

-Group C-

Argentina (4)
Cote d'Ivoire (41)
Serbia & Montenegro (47)
The Netherlands (3)

-Group D-

Mexico (7)
Iran (19)
Angola (62)
Portugal (10)

-Group E-

Italy (12)
Ghana (50)
USA (8)
Czech Republic (2)

-Group F-

Brazil (1)
Croatia (20)
Australia (49)
Japan (15)

-Group G-
France (5)
Switzerland (36)
South Korea (29)
Togo (56)

-Group H-

Spain (6)
Ukraine (40)
Tunisia (28)
Saudi Arabia (32)

USA 90-1 bet to win the World Cup of Soccer

With the draw for the 2006 World Cup taking place today in Liepzig, Germany, has posted its odds on the largest event in the world. The United States, a quarterfinalist last time around, is only a 90-1 long shot to win the title, the same odds as Paraguay and ahead of only 13 other teams in the 32 team field. Defending champion Brazil is the clear favorite with 3-1 odds followed by their South American arch rivals Argentina at 13-2. Despite recent success on the global scene, including a strong performance in the 2002 World Cup and a top ten FIFA world ranking, the USA is still considered a small player in world soccer. The United States felt slighted not to be one of the eight top seeds in the tournament, which would have meant a guarantee that they would not be drawn in the same group as traditional powers like Brazil, France, Argentina or Germany. Mexico, who the US defeated in the second round in the 2002 World Cup, and who the US finished ahead of in the qualifying tournament for Germany 2006, is one of the top eight seeds.
"The US is a strong team and one that can pull off a rare upset, but it still lacks the pedigree and talent that the European and South American teams bring to the table," said Peter Childs, Odds Maker,
" is proud to be the only online sportsbook in the world focused on American soccer fans. No one else provides such comprehensive odds for the US team," added Childs.
Other favorites for the title include England (7-1), hosts Germany (8-1), Holland (9-1), Italy (9-1) and France (10-1). As for the other CONCACAF qualifiers, Mexico is the pick of the crop at 50-1, while Costa Rica (500-1) and Trinidad and Tobago (1,000-1) bring up the rear. The Ivory Coast has the top odds among the African contingent at 80-1, while Japan at 150-1 tops the list of Asian contenders. Australia, representing the Oceana region, is a 200-1 bet.

Who will win the 2006 World Cup?
Brazil 3-1 Poland 70-1
Argentina 13-2 Paraguay 90-1
England 7-1 USA 90-1
Germany 8-1 Switzerland 100-1
Holland 9-1 Japan 150-1
Italy 9-1 Australia 200-1
France 10-1 Ecuador 200-1
Spain 16-1 Angola 250-1
Portugal 20-1 Ghana 250-1
Czech Republic 25-1 South Korea 250-1
Sweden 40-1 Togo 300-1
Mexico 50-1 Tunisia 350-1
Ukraine 50-1 Costa Rica 500-1
Serbia & Montenegro 60-1 Iran 500-1
Croatia 65-1 Saudi Arabia 750-1
Ivory Coast 80-1 Trinidad & Tobago 1,000-1

Sunday, December 04, 2005

German game shows ugly side ahead of World Cup draw

Violence, poor organisation and desperately poor soccer combined to show the ugly side of the German game this weekend just as the country prepares to welcome the world.

Some 1,650 journalists, 500 FIFA officials and coaches from the 32 qualifying teams are heading to Leipzig for the draw for the 2006 World Cup finals on Friday, December 9. An estimated 320 million people will watch the draw by television.

Germany will hope few of the visitors arrived early enough to catch Saturday's Bundesliga programme.

Problems started on Friday when Kaiserslautern's match at home to Eintracht Frankfurt had to be called off after a crack appeared in a stand at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion.

It was the latest in a series of problems to hit Germany's World Cup stadiums amid a 1.5 billion euros programme to build and renovate 12 venue for the finals.

Hamburg SV's 3-1 win over Cologne was then spoiled when midfielder Alexander Laas was hit in the face by a drumstick thrown from the Cologne section of the crowd.

Television pictures showed Laas covered in blood being carried away from the touchline by his team captain Daniel van Buyten before receiving treatment.

"Bloody football," ran the front page headline in the top selling Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "A bleak day for the game," the newspaper added.

Nuremberg's Stefan Kiessling was also hit by an object thrown from the crowd in the game against Borussia Moenchengladbach, although he was unhurt.

"We shouldn't panic," World Cup organising committee vice-president Wolfgang Niersbach said on DSF television on Sunday. "The World Cup is not under threat.

"The old stadiums with running tracks were obviously safer in this regard but video monitoring means people cannot get away with this."

Bild also reported that a man was fatally stabbed on Friday evening after an argument about soccer.

The incident came a few days after 100 German and Polish hooligans started a mass brawl on the German side of the border.

Hooliganism is one of the worst fears for World Cup organisers as they work with police on the security arrangements for the finals, which begin on June 9 in Munich and finish on July 9 in Berlin.

Saturday's feature match between VfB Stuttgart and champions Bayern Munich was spoiled by Germany international Sebastian Deisler's red card in the 42nd minute for an angry retaliation against Ludovc Magnin.

The match was a dire spectacle. As such it was pretty representative of the afternoon as a whole, with just 10 goals scored in the six matches that did go ahead.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Time to make friends in Berlin

In a first for world football, the spectacular 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Gala Berlin will thrill the masses at the Olympic Stadium on 7 June 2006. The creative team behind the Gala unveiled some of the highlights in the German capital on Wednesday.

World-renowned Austrian artist Andre Heller was visibly buzzing with euphoria as he introduced his creative crew. "This really is a dream team. I'm what you might call the publisher, Philippe Decoufle is the chief editor, and the others are the section heads." Director Philippe Decoufle is in charge of the overall concept. He has won awards for previous productions, for music videos (with New Order, Fine Young Cannibals and others), short films and commercials (Dior). He has also choreographed mass events, including the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville. British pop legend Peter Gabriel is responsible for musical direction, and the Gala anthem will be composed by Brian Eno. The team also includes set designer Mark Fisher, one of the world's leaders in his craft. Fisher's credits include recent work for artists such as the Rolling Stones.

2006 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee Germany President Franz Beckenbauer was highly impressed by the artistic line-up and compared the "formation" to a football team. "It's as if you were able to field Maradona, Pele, Johan Cruyff and Di Stefano all in the same team. I believe we can look forward to a breathtaking festival."

Heller had his work cut out to pull together such a star-studded team. "I went on and on about it to Philippe Decoufle, but he initially said, 'No, no, I've already done that in my life'. So I said to him, just give me three weeks and I'll get back to you. So I got back to him with Peter Gabriel as my 'trophy', and he said yes."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Eno, Gabriel, Peas Set For World Cup Kickoff

Germany will stage the World Cup's first opening gala next year, but organizers yesterday (Nov. 30) promised it will be nothing like the extravaganzas seen at the Olympics and the Super Bowl.

Artistic director Andre Heller, who unveiled a creative team that includes Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel, aims to keep the June 7 spectacle a surprise but he promised the gala will have no parade of superstars and will not echo the local themes used at other major sporting events.

"We have an enormous space to fill but we won't do it with banal figures," he said. Performers will include American soprano Jessye Norman, the Black Eyed Peas, Algerian singer Cheb Khaled and around 5,000 volunteers.

Previous World Cups have held opening ceremonies that typically lasted about an hour immediately before the first match. World Cup 2006 will start what world governing body FIFA hopes will be a new tradition -- a separate festivity to mark the start of the tournament, in this case two days before the first ball is kicked.

Eno is composing a 2006 World Cup anthem using instruments from across the world to form a very different orchestra. Music director Gabriel promised to "make some noise." Asked why he had signed up, he joked, "It's the same attraction for a musician as for a footballer -- money, sex and drugs."

Heller is relying on inspiration from avant-garde choreographer Philippe Decoufle. The Frenchman shot to fame after he directed the surreal Cirque du Soleil-style opening and closing ceremonies at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.

Decoufle's shows featured a polka with braying donkey sounds mixed with fiddles and figures emerging from the sky, including suspended ski jumpers and an angel to put out the flame. "I saw ceremonies for 30 years. One was different -- Albertville '92. It was a shock that an artist and not a Disney type was putting on the show," Heller said.