Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
Spectacular opening for World Cup
Claudia Schiffer
Claudia Schiffer added a touch of glamour to proceedings
The 2006 World Cup has got under way in Germany with an extravagant opening ceremony in Munich's Allianz Arena.

Pele, a World Cup winner in 1958, 1962 and 1970, carried the trophy onto the pitch, with German supermodel Claudia Schiffer at his side.

More than 150 former World Cup winners were on display as the hosts put on a spectacular show.

Hosts Germany opened with a 4-2 win over Costa Rica in Munich, while Ecudaor shocked Poland 2-0.

World Cup organisers are expecting about one million people to visit Germany for the tournament, with as many as 100,000 of those from England.

All police leave has been cancelled across Germany as security forces brace themselves for a massive operation.

Five-time winners Brazil are the favourites to win again in a tournament which will be watched by billions worldwide on television.


Supporters packed into the stadium and clustered around giant TV screens on the streets of Munich to watch the game and the star-studded opening ceremony.

Our man in Munich for the opening ceremony

The BBC's Laura Smith Spark was at Munich's Olympic Park where thousands watched the opening game on big screens.

"The excitement here is huge and the crowd deafening. There is a big police presence - some with spotter cameras, but no signs of any trouble," she said.

The BBC's Mandeep Sanghera at the opening ceremony says the fans "certainly got into the swing of the occasion.

"A huge banner suspended by scaffolding at the top of the stadium unfurled to say 'Welcome' and was followed by singing from a choir and 182 drummers from Upper Bavaria slowly building up the atmosphere," our reporter says.

"There was a mixture of old and new as traditional dancers were followed by the more modern hip-hop contingent.

A German fan models a World Cup-themed hat in Munich
The Allianz Arena in Munich was the stage for the opening ceremony

"Twenty-four extravagantly dressed women were carried on to the pitch to the sound of drumming as the stadium reached capacity."

The England players who won the 1966 World Cup led the former champions of past competitions onto the pitch, followed by players from other triumphant sides - dating back to Uruguay in 1930.

German President Horst Kohler gave a speech to officially declare Germany 2006 open, before musician Herbert Gronemeyer sang the official Fifa anthem of Celebrate the Day.

Top contenders

Germany overcame the outsiders Costa Rica - apparently well-prepared not to repeat previous opening game shocks in 1990 (when cup holders Argentina were beaten by Cameroon) and 2002 (when the defending champions France lost to Senegal).

Alongside the Olympics, the competition is the biggest sporting event in the world.

606 VIEW

The World Cup winners will be crowned after the final in Berlin on 9 July, with England, who face Paraguay on Saturday, among the favourites to win.

England, captained by David Beckham, are many people's second favourites and are expected to perform well.

But Argentina, Holland, Italy and Spain are among the other fancied teams, while the hosts have an excellent World Cup pedigree and can never be discounted.

In the last World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan in 2002, Brazil beat Germany 2-0.

  • BBC Sport's TV coverage includes Saturday's England's match against Paraguay, with all BBC live games also broadcast live on the BBC Sport website to UK broadband users. Radio Five Live will have live commentary of all 64 games in the tournament.

    Germany 4-2 Costa Rica
    09 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
    Poland 0-2 Ecuador
    09 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
    World Cup ceremony photos
    09 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
    Your World Cup photos - 9 June
    09 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
    England fans party in Frankfurt
    09 Jun 06 |  UK News
    World Cup build-up in photos
    05 Jun 06 |  Photo Galleries
    World Cup memories
    03 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
    World Cup predictions
    05 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
    World Cup debutants
    20 May 06 |  World Cup 2006

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
    Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other Sport...

    Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us