Media Release

Federation Internationale de Football Association

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

FIFA World Cup™ excitement builds in Seoul

A warm reception and mounting excitement greeted Franz Beckenbauer and his colleagues from the German Organising Committee in Seoul, the third stop on the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Welcome Tour. German ambassador Michael Geier and more than 200 guests from the worlds of politics, business, culture and sport attended the Welcome Korea event, compered by OC vice-president Wolfgang Niersbach in the luxurious ballroom of Seoul's Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Beckenbauer took the opportunity to thank the South Koreans for the country's hospitality during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. "During this fantastic tournament you and your Japanese co-hosts set the bar for World Cup organisers very high," he said. "As hosts we have a daunting task ahead of us if we are to aspire to the same standards." As at the previous stops in Iran and Saudi Arabia, the OC president reported to his hosts on the latest state of play of the World Cup preparations.

A highlight of the Organising Committee's presentation was a video greeting from Guus Hiddink, the experienced Dutch coach who became a hero in South Korea after guiding the national team to the 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-final. Local soccer icon Cha Bum-kun, who spent 10 successful years as a professional in Germany's Bundesliga, had to send his apologies because the Korean club team he coaches was playing a match that clashed with the OC event.

As the event drew to a close, Beckenbauer was joined on stage by Dr. Joon Mong Chung, President of the South Korean Football Association and a FIFA vice-president. He thanked the German Organising Committee party for this "very special" welcome to the FIFA World Cup™, and to mark the OC President's recent 60th birthday he handed over a donation to the Franz Beckenbauer Foundation.

Beckenbauer's Wednesday in Seoul had begun with a round of golf, having had his arm twisted by the leaders of the South Korean federation. The previous evening a dinner with the federation's top officials had also been attended by Dick Advocaat, who as South Korea's new national coach will lead the team to the World Cup finals in Germany. "I am confident that he can lead his team to the same kind of success that Guus Hiddink enjoyed in 2002," Beckenbauer said of the Dutchman, who before joining South Korea was in charge of Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga between November 2004 and April this year.

Thursday's Welcome Japan event at the D-Haus of the German Embassy in Tokyo is the fourth and final stop on the first leg of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Welcome Tour, which will eventually take in all 31 World Cup qualifiers. On Friday afternoon Beckenbauer and his colleagues are due to arrive back in Frankfurt.