2006 World Cup draw to take place in Leipzig
9 December 2005, LEIPZIG, GERMANY - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder were among the dignitaries assembled in Leipzig for Friday night's 2006 football World Cup draw.
9 December 2005
LEIPZIG, GERMANY - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder were among the dignitaries assembled in Leipzig for Friday night's 2006 football World Cup draw.
"The tension is slowly growing ahead of tonight's draw, but even more looking ahead at next June," Merkel said after attending a meeting of the German football federation DFB earlier Friday.
The World Cup will be played June 9-July 9, 2006, in 12 German cities.
On Friday night the teams were to be drawn into the eight groups for the first round of the tournament. So far only hosts Germany and title-holders Brazil have been placed, at the top of groups A and F, respectively.
The other seeds France, Argentina, England, Spain, Italy and Mexico were to be drawn along with the 24 other teams.
The ruling body FIFA was expecting a TV audience of 320 million from around 150 countries to tune in to the draw which comes at the end of a 90-minute show hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum and German TV presenter Reinhold Beckmann.
Show acts were to include Colombian singer Juanes and an 80-strong symphony orchestra.
Merkel, Schroeder, FIFA boss Joseph Blatter and organising committee head Franz Beckenbauer will be among the 4,000-crowd in the Leipzig Congress Centre hall along with big names from entertainment and sport.
"I am really looking forward to tonight's draw. It makes no difference for Germany as long as the opponents are beatable. I think Germany can win the World Cup," said tennis icon Boris Becker.
Merkel and Schroeder attended the DFB meeting, where Schroeder was made a honorary member for the strong governmental World Cup support ever since he took office in 1998.
"Despite all the difficulties in the country he gave the green light for all World Cup matters," DFB boss Theo Zwanziger said in praise of Schroeder.
Merkel, who was elected Chancellor on November 22, has pledged to do the same in the final countdown to the big event.
"The visitors and the TV audience are to experience Germany as a nice and hospitable country," Merkel told Friday's edition of the Bild daily which welcomed the world to Leipzig in 16 languages on the front page.
Subject: German news