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Soccer's international grand finale, known as the World Cup, takes place every four years. In 2006 the host nation is Germany, which will hold the event in 12 cities stretching from Hamburg to Munich.
The World Cup tradition began in 1930 (interrupted only by World War II). In a long process of elimination almost 200 national football teams are reduced to 32 for the games known as the Weltmeisterschaft (WM) or Weltpokal in German. The 2006 WM in Germany will take place from 9 June to 9 July. Recent World Cup hosts were the USA (1994), France (1998), and Korea/Japan (2002).
It's not too early to start planning for the 2006 games this summer. Tickets went on sale in February 2005. The official ticket prices range from 35 to 600 euros, depending on the game and the seating category (of which there are four). If you want the best seats in the final game in Berlin, it will cost you 600 euros (about US$710). For the quarter finals (in Berlin, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, and Hamburg) the best seats are 400 euros (about US$470), while the cheap seats are 90 euros (just over US$100). But there has been controversy over how the tickets are being sold. A law suit was filed over the lottery method being used to sell returned or unused tickets.
As the host country for 2006, Germany, a key player in the 2002 games, automatically qualifies for the World Cup. Acording to the match-ups announced in Leipzig on Dec. 9, 2005, Germany (Group A) will play the first game against Costa Rica in Munich on June 9, 2006. The only other German-speaking country to make it into the 2006 games is Switzerland, which will play France in the first game of Group G (which also includes Korea and Togo). The USA opens against the Czech Republic in Gelsenkirchen on June 12. (See our complete qualifying teams list.)
The opening games are in Munich, with more elimination rounds in various cities. Munich recently completed its brand new Allianz Arena in the north of the city. The semifinals take place in Munich and Dortmund, while the big final game is in Berlin's historic Olympic Stadium, newly renovated for about $291 million. Here are the host cities for 2006 with the opening and closing dates for each city, which will each host from five to six games. See the FIFA link below for a full schedule.
German Host Cities - Spielorte
Berlin - 13 June/9 July (Final game!)
Dortmund - 10 June/4 July
Frankfurt - 10 June/1 July
Gelsenkirchen - 9 June/1 July
Hamburg - 10 June/30 June
Hannover - 12 June/27 June
Kaiserslautern - 12 June/26 June
Köln (Cologne) - 11 June/26 June
Leipzig - 11 June/24 June
München (Munich) - 9 June (Game 1)/5 July (Semifinals)
Nürnberg - 11 June/25 June
Stuttgart - 13 June/8 July (for 3rd place)
Full WM 2006 Schedule > Deutschland 2006 Spielplan (downloadable PDF schedule)
You can also subscribe to the free FIFA newsletter with information and updates on the 2006 WM events. The official FIFA Web site offers maps, videos, schedules, team info, and much more - in several languages, including German and English.
Qualifying 2006 Teams in German and English
GLOSSARY > Fußball-Lexikon (German-English)
What happened in the 2002 World Cup?
About.com > World Soccer - 2006 World Cup