Media Release

Federation Internationale de Football Association

FIFA Strasse 20, P.O Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland, +41 (0) 43 222 7777

Beckenbauer receives highest honour in Paraguay

With the temperature nudging 35 degrees, the Welcome Tour arrived in Paraguay for its 23rd stop where the South American football HQ in Luque played host to a moving ceremony. OC President Franz Beckenbauer was awarded South American confederation Conmebol's highest order of merit on Tuesday 15 February.

"Beckenbauer's example proves that football can extend a person's capabilities," Conmebol President Nicolás Leoz declared in his citation, heard by 100 invited guests.

Following the ceremony in Luque, Beckenbauer joined OC vice-president Wolfgang Niersbach and adviser Fedor H. Radmann at a reception hosted by Paraguay State President Nicanor Duarte Frutos at the governmental palace in Asunción. Duarte, a self-confessed football enthusiast, listened intently as the OC delegation reported on preparations for the tournament, which kicks off in Munich 113 days from now.

The evening OC Welcome Event at the Asunción Sheraton Hotel featured videos of Paraguayan Bundesliga stars Roque Santa Cruz and Nelson Valdez.

Bayern Munich striker Santa Cruz introduced Paraguay's FIFA World Cup team base in Oberhaching. Werder Bremen's Valdez greeted the guests, including local football hero Julio César Romero, or "Romerito" in Guarani, one of Paraguay's two official languages.

"As a native of Munich, I can confirm the choice of Oberhaching was a very good decision," Beckenbauer commented. The OC President was awarded a gold medal by the Paraguay Football Association during the event.

"One senses the World Cup coming closer and closer at events like this. We are incredibly excited about our opening match against England in Frankfurt on 10 June," Albirroja national coach Anibal Ruiz declared.

The OC delegation's tour of South America moves on to Argentina on Wednesday 15 February, and Brazil on Friday 17 February