Monday, March 06, 2006

World Cup News - March 6th

FIFA President Sepp Blatter doesn't understand the ticketing system being used for the World Cup. "The Germans picked a system I can't understand at all,'' Blatter, soccer's top official, told Swiss newspaper Neue Zuericher Zeitung. "I had my reservations about it from the start but in the end I'll be blamed for everything.'' Good to know that long after anything could be done about it (and after all the bad press dealing with it), Blatter is willing to take a stand.

However, for those in the world that were lucky enough to win the World Cup lottery and get a ticket or two, the city of Dortmund plans on holding a World Cup fan camp. Four thousand beds will be available in five massive trade-fair halls, providing cheap accommodation for fans right next door to Dortmund's World Cup stadium. The price of €35 per night, which is available to football fans who stay three nights, includes local transport not only to the Dortmund stadium, but to stadiums in Cologne and Gelsenkirchen as well. Seeing as Gelsenkirchen is the site of the first US match, this might be of value to some American fans.

By the way, if you did not get match tickets, you might want to try and become one of 79 German politicians and high-ranking civil servants as they will receive free tickets to all 64 matches. Germany has 16 regional states, how hard can it be to become president of one of them?

After looking less then good against Italy, Germany might be looking to add a few additional matches to its pre-Cup warm-up schedule. German officials said they might add as many as three matches to get the squad in shape.

By the way, Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann finds himself under fire again, but this time it's not for the way his team played on the pitch, it's for is decision not to attend a workshop of World Cup coaches that started Monday. Instead of being in snowy Germany for the conference, Klinsmann is enjoying some more time in the warm California sun.

Hopefully Klinsmann will decide to make it to Germany in June. If he does, he will join 31 other countries including Iran. There had been talk recently of forbidding Iran from taking part in the Cup due to the controversy over its nuclear activities and comments made by Iran's president described the Nazi Holocaust as a "myth". However, FIFA has announced that Iran will not be removed and will get to play in Group D along with Mexico, Portugal and Angola.

One of Iran's group mates got some really bad news today as Portugal international defender Jorge Andrade will miss the World Cup after undergoing knee surgery. Andrade severed a tendon in his knee in colliding with Depor keeper Jose Molina in the 3-2 defeat at Barcelona. Not to understate the news, Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said: "His injury is terrible news for us."

One of the mottos for this year's finals is "An injury- and doping-free football festival for 2006." To that extent, all players will have extensive medical checkups including heart checks, during the tournament. Doctors will be issued defibrillators to be used on players, officials and spectators whose hearts stop during games.

The finals will not only see defibrillators, but they will also see a lot of private security firms. Private security firms will play a big role particularly when it comes to providing security for the 32-team quarters and in the downtown areas in 12 German cities where the games will take place. In addition, they'll also take over security for live game broadcasts on huge public screens across Germany.

But all this security might be for nothing as yet another stadium is in need of repair. Last week cracks were discovered in a supporting column at the new Frankfurt arena. Today, a joint between two concrete slabs was damaged in Munich's new stadium. This is not a way to put to rest questions about the safety of the facilities.

Finally, European lawmakers are afraid that the World Cup might cause women and girls to be forced into prostitution in Germany. "The World Cup should be a celebration of sport, not an orgy of the sale of women's bodies," Marianne Mikko, a member of the European parliament from Estonia, said. The fear is that women from poorer nations in Europe (such as former Soviet republics) might be forced into sex slavery. Let's just hope the action this summer stays on the pitch.

95 days till kickoff...


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