Merkel to meet football bosses to discuss WC

13th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 March 2006, BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet Germany's football bosses this week amid recriminations over the national team's poor performance in the run-up to the World Cup.

13 March 2006

BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet Germany's football bosses this week amid recriminations over the national team's poor performance in the run-up to the World Cup.

The chancellor wanted to use Wednesday's meeting to obtain a picture of the situation three months ahead of the competition on home soil, the government press office said.

Among those present will be Franz Beckenbauer, president of the organizing committee for the tournament, and the man he publicly criticized last week, national team coach Juergen Klinsmann.

Klinsmann drew Beckenbauer's ire for returning to his home in California after Germany's recent shock 4-1 loss to Italy instead of staying to attend a World Cup coaches workshop in Dusseldorf.

The defeat stunned soccer-mad Germans and the press dismissed the team's performance as a fiasco, raising the spectre it could be bundled out in the first round when the tournament opens in June.

Several members of parliament even went so far as to call for Klinsmann to appear before the legislature's sports committee to explain his concept for the World Cup.

Merkel has taken a lot of interest in the World Cup, which she called "a great event". After the draw last December she said she expected Germany to do well.

Sports experts believe she might use Wednesday's meeting to impress on those concerned the need to put aside petty differences and personal vanities.

The sport's governing body, the German football association DFB, has been taken aback by the effect the squabbles over Klinsmann's training methods has had on the mood of the public.

Klinsmann himself has complained about having to take advice from "politicians, DFB vice presidents and others who don't have anything to do with my job."

The coach, who has been in charge since 2004, said he would continue with his policy of playing offensive football and using young players, even though this is fraught with risks, as the game against Italy showed.

Klinsmann has a chance to make amends if Germany scores an emphatic victory against the United States in a friendly in Dortmund on March 22. He is due to announce his squad later this week.

A report from a consumer organization that stadium safety was not what it should be and a row over the allocation of tickets have also cast a shadow over preparations.

Germany were losing finalists to Brazil in the last World Cup in Japan and South Korea four years ago. But they have never really recaptured their form since then.

A survey conducted for the television news channel NTV in the wake of the Italy game, showed only 9 per cent thought Germany had a chance of winning the World Cup.

Earlier Monday, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called for the armed forces to be activated if the need arose to help police during the World Cup.

A statement released after a meeting on security issues in Stuttgart said the army could be called in to deal with terrorist threats or if security was at stake.

DPA

Subject: German news

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