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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Shock and delight as Germany celebrates
Franz Beckenbauer is hugged on stage
Moment of triumph: A hug for Franz Beckenbauer
Germany has begun celebrating a victory most of its population believed was impossible. Such was the mood of pessimism before the announcement that no official celebrations were planned.

As player or as coach you can in theory compete at a World Cup every four years - but to bring the World Cup to your country and to organise it, you get that chance only once in your lifetime

Franz Beckenbauer

As amazement turned to sheer delight, many paid tribute to the bid's architect, Franz Beckenbauer, seen as the single most important factor in bringing the World Cup to a reunited Germany for the first time.

The former footballer and national team manager, who played in the last World Cup hosted by Germany in 1974, said bringing the tournament back was "probably my greatest moment".

"As player or as coach you can in theory compete at a World Cup every four years," said Beckenbauer.

"But to bring the World Cup to your country and to organise it, you get that chance only once in your lifetime.

"We relied on our facts, that we are able to organise the World Cup," said Beckenbauer, whose lively presentation to Fifa emphasised the superiority of Germany's stadia, its security arrangements and the transport links.
Beckenbauer lifts trophy
The way he was: Franz Beckenbauer lifts the trophy in 1974

But he added: "Emotions were also involved, not only rational things, and the emotions were on the South African side."

His key role was praised by many Germans, including government ministers, who believe the bid would not otherwise have succeeded.

"It's a deserved reward for the extraordinary work by Franz Beckenbauer. It's a great situation for Germany," said German Interior Minister Otto Schily.

"Without Beckenbauer, we would have never clinched it," said Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, another former star player who also helped the bid.

It is the news that we all wished for Germany and German soccer

German President Johannes Rau

Rudi Voeller, the new coach of the German national team, said the decision was very important for German soccer.

"It was very close but we deserved it," Voeller said. "Now we have to prove that we can also do it on the field as well."

President Johannes Rau said he and the nation's soccer-lovers were "enormously happy" about the decision.

"It is the news that we all wished for Germany and German soccer," he said.

The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, went to Zurich to support his country's bid, along with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer and tennis star Boris Becker.
Claudia Schiffer
Model campaigner: Claudia Schiffer went to Zurich

Celebrations have been particularly enthusiastic in the 16 German cities which have been shortlisted as venues for the World Cup matches.

Only one - Leipzig - is in former East German territory. Around 10 or 12 cities will finally be selected.

Berlin is expected to host the final, and Munich the opening game.

Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen said Berliners were "proud and happy," and promised that the renovation of the city's historic Olympic stadium would be finished in time for the tournament.

Winning the right to stage the World Cup may also, in some measure, make up for Germany's disappointing performance in Euro 2000.

Now it has another six years in which to put together a winning team.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Berlin
"There'll be massive celebrations around the country"
See also:

06 Jul 00 | 2006 World Cup decision
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