35 days to World Cup: positive FIFA-LOC management meeting in Zurich
With just 35 days to go until the 18th FIFA World Cup gets underway in Germany, the management of FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) met in Zurich today (5 May 2006) to assess the current status of preparations. At this meeting, which was conducted in a cordial atmosphere, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and General Secretary Urs Linsi discussed a number of issues with LOC President Franz Beckenbauer and 1st Vice-President Horst R. Schmidt.
Both parties declared themselves very satisfied with preparations and noted that the agreements reached a number of years ago had been well implemented by both sides. All that now remains in the weeks ahead is to put the finishing touches to the preparations. Both the LOC and FIFA have great expectations for the tournament.
The main topics of discussion were:
Ticketing: The LOC pledged to hold further discussions with the security authorities, focussing specifically on the checks at stadium entrance points to ensure that the flow of spectators moves as smoothly as possible.
FIFA Congress (Munich, 7-8 June): FIFA was delighted to learn that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address the delegates of the 207 FIFA member associations. In addition, every living player who has won the FIFA World Cup, whether with Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, England or France, will be invited to attend the Congress. These guests will also feature in the opening ceremony ahead of the opening match in Munich on 9 June.
Opening ceremony: Plans for the opening ceremony were also discussed and unanimously approved. The official declaration to open the 18th FIFA World Cup will be an important part of the colourful ceremony that is scheduled to last approximately 20 minutes. Further details on the opening ceremony will be given at a press conference in Munich on 14 May.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter welcomed the 12 host cities' decision to organise an official reception for the FIFA delegations and thanked them for their initiative.
Finally, with regard to the recent decision passed by the German federal supreme court, the management of both FIFA and the LOC agreed that the decision regrettably sent out "dangerous signals".