Media Release

Federation Internationale de Football Association

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

Past world champions to take part in 2006 FIFA World Cup™ opening ceremony

"A time to make friends™" this phrase, coined by Viennese multi-artist André Heller, is the motto with which the 18th FIFA World Cup is set to kick off on 9 June in Germany. As a prelude, a spectacular opening show will be staged by Munich director Christian Stückl in the FIFA World Cup stadium of the Bavarian capital.

In a 30-minute programme, he's managed to square the circle between the traditional image of Germany replete with Lederhosen and Schuhplatteln, or quaint Bavarian folk dancing to the modern, multicultural Germany driven by hip hop and the exciting big city culture of the Berlin band Seeed. Germany's undisputed superstar Herbert Grönemeyer will be singing the FIFA World Cup anthem he was specially asked to write for the occasion. The six FIFA zones throughout the world will be reflected in a magnificently colourful array of costumes and visuals. Over 1,000 people, many of them volunteers, will take part in the show.

The opening ceremony in Munich differs in one point from all the previous ones: for the first time in the over 100-year old history of FIFA, all of the surviving world champions have been invited to take part in the show, which has been specially extended by 10 minutes to accommodate them. There's no doubt that it will be a magic moment for all football fans around the world when 158 of these football legends walk on to the pitch in Munich, led by German children dressed in the kit of each national team.

The German President, Horst Köhler, who will officially open this 18th FIFA World Cup will be accompanied by FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Franz Beckenbauer, the President of the Local Organising Committee of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.

The opening ceremony starts at 16:23 on 9 June.

Text for TV commentators

"A time to make friends TM" - that's the motto coined by Vienna's multi-talented artist André Heller which is behind this World Cup in Germany. Christian Stückl, the director of the opening ceremony, said he wanted to stage a 30-minute celebration with a blend of Bavarian tradition, which he believes has been instrumental in shaping Germany's international image, and the new modern Germany as represented by the hip music scene in the capital of Berlin. The show kicks off in Munich, opens up to the whole of Germany and from there to the entire world.

16:23:00

On the pitch over which a green carpet has been laid, 42 children of the Tölz Boys' Choir have lined up and are singing… 182 drummers from Upper Bavaria are now marching in from the sides. The men - I say that because Bavaria only has a few drummers' processions in which women are allowed to take part - the men are dressed in traditional leather garb. Their short buckskin trousers feature colourful braces which have been embroidered by girlfriends, wives and mothers in what can only be described as painstaking handiwork; it takes up to nine months of work to complete these works of art depicting Alpine flowers, the Bavarian flag, and every now and then horses' head and drums.

16:24:00

The drummers are starting to drum up a bit of atmosphere

16:24:05

Gottschalk starts commentating on the PA

16:25:20

14 traditional goatherds have taken their place among the male drummers. The goatherds used to protect their charges from wolves and bears with their leather whips, some of them over 20 feet in length. In the show they will be using 12 feet long whips. And in fact the countdown to the start of the World Cup will be marked by the loud crack of their whips - in Bavaria, wouldn't you know it, they even hold championships in this ancient art.

16:26:13

30 carpet boys - schoolboys from in and just outside Munich - are pulling away a diagonal strip of the green floor surface to reveal the red carpet

16:27:02

Two small children are now walking along the red surface. They're called Bella and Xaver, they're both 9 years old, they're from the Chiemgau area and they already have experience in appearing in front of a large crowd. The director of today's event, Christian Stückl, discovered them in the children's theatre of one of his friends… Even as a 5-year old, Bella was already part of the renowned "Everyman" cast in Salzburg, and it wasn't long before she was joined by Xaver. According to Stückl, these two little professionals don't know the meaning of stage fright

16:27:53

Xaver blows a fanfare, a lead-in that will shortly be taken up by a major choir and orchestra. The splendidly dressed choir is entering the stadium, intoning an ode to joy along the lines of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Once again, the singers and performers on the field are volunteers, young people from Munich and the surrounding area, and they've been rehearsing for weeks for this appearance in front of an audience of billions. "It's going to be the biggest celebration in my lifetime", one of the volunteers was telling me, adding there was no way that she was going to miss out on this event.

16:29:04

The music has stopped while a huge welcome flag is being unrolled from top to bottom across the centre of the pitch using a kabuki technique. It shows a child's drawing done by Luis, the son of costume designer Marlene Poley, who not only created the costumes for the celebration but also was responsible for other parts of the set, right down to the stage. The flag is an overt greeting to the world. And now, the choir is moving to the side in readiness for when it later picks up the flag and carries it off to the edge of the pitch.

16:29:29

And here come the Bavarians, marching in homage to the host country of this World Cup opening ceremony: We can see the traditional young musicians from Rieding on a magnificently decorated float, haystacks are coming on to the field accompanied by 150 "Schuhplattlers", the traditional dancers who slap their hands on their thighs and the soles of their shoes. And did you know, only bachelors are allowed to take part in this dance because it's really a courtship display. They say that many of the dancers have put off their wedding just to be at this World Cup.

You'd be pushed to find a place where traditional customs and traditions are nurtured to the extent they are in Bavaria's clubs and associations. This Southern German state has over 1,000 registered costume associations celebrating a heritage that has been passed on from one generation to the other for centuries. As an example, take the so-called women's "Dirndl", a dress with a tight-fitting upper part and usually with a white blouse accompanied by swirling skirts and aprons. In many parts of Upper Bavaria, the word "Dirndl" not only refers to the dress but is also used to describe young girls.

So as the lasses pirouette while the lads - or "Buam", as the men are called in these parts, circle around them, their skirts fly up almost vertically in the air to reveal their long, lacy underwear.

The large headdresses are based on the so-called "Schön-Perchten", or friendly Germanic spirits whose origins go back to New Year's ceremonies in ancient times. They are worn at processions in the Bavarian Alps between 5 December and the feast of Epiphany (6 January) and are supposed to drive away the cold winter nights, darkness and evil spirits. The many colourful flowers which are used to decorate the "Perchten" and the headdresses also symbolise the longing for warmth and spring.

Flowers, colourful feathers and all kinds of decorations embellish the tall poles known as "Prangstangen" which are usually carried during church processions.

16:29:31

Powerful figures carrying large bells run onto the pitch from either side. These bells weigh up to 25 kilos! The bell ringers, or "Wolfsauslasser", as they are known in some parts of Bavaria, are a reminder of the days when cattle were driven down from the mountain pastures in autumn. After months of isolation in the mountains, with only their cows for company, the cowherds were happy to get paid and buckled the bells, usually worn by the cows as protection, around themselves. This day is celebrated on the eve of Martinmas, on 11 November. With a deafening noise the bell ringers go from house to house, ringing their heavy bells until they are exhausted, and drinking many a tankard of beer in the process.

16:32:12

The bell ringers start their deafening, truly ancient display.... wreaths of mist rise and the musicians' cart is transformed into a stage.

This cart is special: it weighs just 2.3 tonnes and rides, or rather floats, on special air-cushion tyres that distribute the weight so that the turf is not damaged, because when all is said and done, in just over an hour the whistle will blow for the start of the first World Cup match.

16:33:02

The haystacks, known as Heumandln, or "almonds of hay" in Bavaria, burst open and out leap hip-hop dancers, so modern Germany comes face to face with traditionally costumed dancers. Instead of the music of Bavaria we now hear the sound of Berlin band Seeed, who take over the stage with their loud beat. These eleven musicians and their three dancers are regarded as the "phattest" band on the German Republic's music scene and as the standard bearers for multilingual German dance hall reggae. The sound of their bass-heavy music is a matched response to the ancient sounds of the bell ringers.

The costumed performers retire and the hip-hop dancers take over the field. They are choreographed by Niels Robitzky, better known by his pseudonym "Storm". The Berlin man is a legend on the hip-hop scene and Europe's best-known break-dancer. He brings 20 German cracks to the stage with this dance style, which is a combination of artistic dance, floor acrobatics and reggae.

16:36:07

The world's drummers come onto the pitch, 120 drummers with drums from all over the world, once again powerfully symbolising the motto "A time to make friends". They wear costumes symbolising the six FIFA zones - Europe, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Africa, South America and North America.

24 splendidly dressed women, each carried by six bearers, are born in as part of a big carnival procession, also symbolising the six different regions of the football world. These fantastic robes were also designed by Marlene Pohley and created by Viennese costume workshop Art for Art.

16:38:43

At the last stroke of the drummers of the world, the FIFA trophy will be announced by stadium compère Gottschalk, whilst a film with scenes of the FIFA trophy will be shown on the screens.

16:38:53

The FIFA trophy will be born in and brought to the stage by Claudia Schiffer, one of the most beautiful women in Germany, and legendary World Cup footballer Pelé.

16:39:33

The 24 women are now hoisted aloft on wires and will float and spin up to 30 metres above the pitch. Extreme climbers who could cope with the strain and who, of course, don't suffer from vertigo either, were sought for this tableau.

16:40:08

Presentation by Gottschalk

For the first time in the 100-year plus history of FIFA, all the world champions still alive today have been invited to actively participate in a World Cup opening ceremony. The teams run on, lead by junior football players in the current national kits, in a sequence according to the number of World Cups their nation has won. As they run on a film will be playing showing the most moving scenes from all the previous World Cups.

16:40:21

1966 World Cup film clips, players from the English team are lead in.

16:40:54

1998 World Cup film clips, players from the French team are lead in.

16:41:26

1930 and 1950 World Cup film clips, players from Uruguay are lead in.

16:41:59

1978 and 1986 World Cup film clips, players from Argentina are lead in.

16:43:02

1934, 1938 and 1982 World Cup film clips, players from Italy are lead in.

16:43:55

1954, 1974 and 1990 World Cup film clips, players from Germany are lead in.

16:45:20

1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002 World Cup film clips, players from the reigning world champions, Brazil, are lead in.

16:47:20

When all the world champions are on the field, gradually all the musicians and the choir return and play music by the Munich composer Moritz Eggert. At the same time, the screens show a film highlighting the emotions that fans experience during World Cup championships.

16:49:14

President of the Federal Republic of Germany Horst Köhler, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and LOC President Franz Beckenbauer enter the stadium as the music plays and go on to the stage. When the music ends, they are introduced and welcomed by stadium compère Gottschalk. Gottschalk then asks the President of the Federal Republic of Germany to inaugurate the World Cup championships.

16:49:55

President Köhler inaugurates the World Cup championships.

16:51:05

The concluding musical highlight: Herbert Grönemeyer, who composed both the music and lyrics, sings the official FIFA anthem, Celebrate the Day, in German and English, accompanied by African pop duo "Amadou & Mariam" who had a summer hit last year with their album "Dimanche à Bamako" . At the end of Grönemeyer's song, concealed pockets in the skirts of the women, who are still floating above the pitch, shower confetti on the spectators. From the sides of the pitch come standard bearers, carrying the 32 flags of the participating nations.

16:55:33

The exit parade by the musicians commences. As soon as the final applause has ended, the stage and carpet that has protected the pitch are dismantled so that by 17.10 everything is ready for the players from Costa Rica and Germany to warm up before the first match.