Football: World Cup bid upsets Germany

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The Independent Online
The German Football Federation, DFB, yesterday rounded on the Football Association for failing to consult it before deciding on a rival European bid for the 2006 World Cup finals.

The DFB, embroiled in a row which also involves England and Europe's governing body, Uefa, over bidding for the event, said it had announced in 1993 that Germany would seek to host the finals.

The federation feels that its English counterpart should have informed Germany of its intentions before expressing interest in the event much later, following England's successful staging of last summer's Euro 96.

"You have to ask the question whether a country should go to a partner and tell them rather than let them be informed through the media," the DFB spokesman, Wolfgang Niersbach, said. "It is normal that countries should talk to each other. I told FA official David Davies that we are not happy that things started like this. It shouldn't happen like that.

"Perhaps it is forgotten but DFB chief Egidius Braun was a huge supporter of England to get Euro 96 at times when some people were saying the event can't go to England because of the hooligans."

Last Friday, Uefa announced it would be backing the Germans' campaign, sparking outrage in British sporting and political circles. The FA called the decision "undemocratic".

However, the Germans believe Europe can fend off competition from Africa and South America to stage the tournament only if the continent acts in unison. They are desperate to avoid a repeat of the unseemly contest for the 2002 World Cup between Japan and South Korea. The event was eventually awarded jointly to the rival nations, a development which the Germans say is out of the question in this case.

The FA, whose argument is primarily with Uefa, has attempted to heal the rift with the DFB. "We have received a fax from the FA chief executive, Graham Kelly, saying that the argument is not with the Germans and we want to stay good friends and colleagues," Niersbach said.

"There have been no dirty tricks on our part in all this. We have always put our cards firmly on the table."

Germany plans to put Franz Beckenbauer, the most successful figure in its footballing history, at the top of their bid. The former World Cup- winning captain and coach has agreed to take on the same kind of leading role which France gave to their former captain, Michel Platini, in a successful bid for the 1998 finals.