Germany Hand Over 2006 World Cup Opening Match to Brazil; Klinsmann Makes Waves

HAMBURG Germany (Associated Press) - Germany has declined the opportunity to play in the opening game of the 2006 World Cup announcing Sunday that it was passing the honor to Brazil.

The decision continues a World Cup tradition that began in 1974 that will see the defending champion contest the June 9 2006 match at Munich's Allianz Stadium.

"We'll make way for Brazil. The defending champions can open the World Cup Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said.

Germany will likely play its first match three days later at Berlin's Olympiastadion the site of the final.

The move was the latest shakeup by Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann who upset some in Germany by announcing his team won't hold its World Cup training camp at Bayer Leverkusen's BayArena despite an agreement with the Bundesliga club.

"We know there's promises to Leverkusen Bierhoff said. "But the first glance shows the solution isn't optimal. Not because of Leverkusen's stadium but because of the distance between the hotel and stadium."

Leverkusen reacted angrily noting that club owner and chemical giant Bayer AG had been a major supporter of Germany's effort to bring the World Cup to the country.

Since BayArena holds only 22500 spectators not enough to host a World Cup match Leverkusen and Bayer AG's reward was the training camp.

Bayer AG sports director Meinolf Sprink accused Klinsmann and the German soccer federation (DFB) of lacking style in making the change as well as breach of contract.

"We have a clear written agreement. I think it's sad that we found this out through the press Sprink said.

Bierhoff said the Germany team may turn to a different part of the country in looking for a new training camp.

Klinsmann has made several changs within German soccer since taking over the three-time World Cup champion last month changing methods and personnel in a way that has often been described as "uncompromising" and "ruthless."

The former forward has vowed to turn around the team which was eliminated in the first round at the European Championship in June in time to win the 2006 World Cup.

His methods have produced numerous critics but Klinsmann has won over many skeptics with results so far.

He opened with a 3-1 win against Austria and drew praise for a 1-1 draw against Brazil last week.


Saturday, September 16