The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Germany, Fifa in ‘bit of a dispute’

Berlin: Tension has arisen between German organisers and Fifa in the countdown to the 2006 World Cup because of disagreements over such matters as ticket prices and a plan to add four teams to the finals.

Franz Beckenbauer, who threatened this month to step down as president of the German organising committee because of the arguments with Fifa, has made it clear he would prefer to stick to the current format of 32 teams.

The former World Cup-winning captain and coach has also accused the world governing body of being interested chiefly in making money and asking for unreasonably high prices for tickets, hotel rooms and VIP packages.

Fifa has assured the German organisers that their views would be taken into consideration and asked Beckenbauer to stay on, but the row has yet to be settled.

“It is fair to say that there is a bit of a dispute,” Fifa general secretary Urs Linsi said. “We have different interests.”

Linsi was speaking after a new conference on Wednesday in Munich, at which it was officially confirmed that Berlin would stage the final of the 2006 tournament while Munich would get the opening game.

After the announcement Beckenbauer and other officials of the German organising committee went to speak to Linsi to make their position clear.

“We do not want to bear responsibility for decisions which would not be made by us and would not reflect our preoccupations,” said Beckenbauer. “We have to be careful.”

Linsi said he was confident harmony would return. “We will find a solution in common,” he said. “Our views are not that far apart.”

Beckenbauer and his team want to offer tickets at reasonable prices and are worried that such issues might be decided by Fifa against their interests.

They are also against a proposal by South American Confederation (CONMEBOL) to add four teams to the 2006 finals, Beckenbauer saying that he feared such a format might lead to arrangements between teams for a suitable result for both sides.

Fifa will either endorse or refuse the proposal of expanding the finals to 36 teams at their next executive meeting in Paris at the end of the June.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, had said he would rather keep the current format but European governing body Uefa’s president Lennart Johansson said on Wednesday that he was in favour of the CONMEBOL proposal.

The German organising committee came under scrutiny last month with a report that Beckenbauer’s Bayern Munich club had tried to influence the 2006 World Cup vote by striking deals with smaller national federations.

Beckenbauer denied the allegations that Bayern had played friendlies around the world, with lucrative television deals for their hosts, as part of a lobbying campaign to support Germany’s bid.

Germany surprisingly beat favourites South Africa by one vote in July 2000 to win the right to stage the 2006 finals.

The vote itself was controversial, Germany winning courtesy of an abstention from New Zealand delegate Charles Dempsey, who ignored instructions from his Oceania colleagues to support South Africa.

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