Thursday, March 02, 2006

World Cup News - March 2nd - Germany will win the World Cup

Germany might have been kicked around the pitch in Italy yesterday, but according to statistics, they will win the World Cup. A study into the benefits of home advantage published on Thursday by the Cologne-based IW Institute suggests that reams get an average boost of 2.5 rounds from hosting the tournament. Since Germany has, on average, reached the quarter or semi-finals, that 2.5 rounds puts them with the cup.

The teams who have got the biggest boost from playing on home soil are France (4.5 rounds further) with Uruguay and England almost getting the same boost when they won as hosts in 1930 and 1966 respectively.

Of course this might all be for not if the bird flu finds a way to derail the tournament. Sepp Blatter, FIFA's president, has warned that if the bird flu starts to be transmitted from human to human, they might call off the Cup. "At the moment, there's no question of canceling," he said. "But if it should turn out that bird flu develops into a threat, like cholera or the plague, if it passes on from human to human, it is a decision for the government and we must respect that."

There really is no way to easily move on from a pandemic story, but the World Cup mascot Goleo VI (pictured) handed over the tickets to the opening match yesterday. They are green and yellow in color. Fans who managed to get a ticket will received them 6-8 weeks before the game.

Hooligans remain the main concern for security experts at the World Cup. Although they are not overlooking terrorism, they feel the soccer related violence is more likely. The availability of low-cost flights and the likelihood of many thousands of fans turning up for games without a ticket are factors, which have prompted fears about violence at the event.

Two countries that are nervous over possible attacks are Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, the fear might not be so much from hooligans as from exiles and "radical opposition groups." The teams will receive special protection during the World Cup.

Even with these fears, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that his nation's team might be "a surprise package" in Germany. He made these remarks while visiting the national training camp yesterday.

Finally, Pele has warned Brazil not to get cocky saying, "Brazil has two players in each position who are very good. But in the World Cup, sometimes it takes just one game for you to go out." He pointed to France in 2002 as an example of how quickly the greats and become the goats.

99 days till kickoff.


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