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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK

Aigner not hopeful

Uefa chief executive Gerhard Aigner claims England have more chance of winning the World Cup than his native Germany.

Aigner dismissed his fellow countrymen as "not a good team" as he reflected on a spectacular start to the competition, which has left just four European nations in the last eight.

Speaking at the official ceremony for the handing over of bid documents for the 2008 European Championships, Aigner said: "In virtually every year before I would have said Germany, but not now.

"England have done very well so far and if they can beat Brazil they will have a great opportunity.

"Even though they are still in the competition, Germany are not a very good team.

"They keep fighting to the end and are obviously still in it, but the other teams would have to look at themselves if Germany win it.

Italy row

"Uefa still has four teams left in the competition, so that's not too disappointing. Let's hope one of them is ultimately successful."

Meanwhile, Aigner joined the row which erupted following Italy's elimination.

After having four goals disallowed during the tournament and then seeing star striker Francisco Totti sent off against the Koreans, the Italians have returned home complaining bitterly.

Aigner admitted: "I never criticise a referee but I do have some sympathy for Italy.

"What I am totally opposed to is the introduction of new rules before the start of the competition.

"FIFA dictated that yellow cards have to be given for simulation and it puts pressure on the referee.

"The dismissal of Totti was a specific example of what can happen."

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