170 world champions expected at opening ceremony
Munich, June 7 (DPA) Germany is well prepared for the World Cup finals that start Friday in Munich, organising committee (OK) president Franz Beckenbauer said.
Addressing a press conference with the president of football's controlling body FIFA, Josef Blatter, Beckenbauer said that it would not be good if things are not on track.
"It would be bad if we still have problems," he said.
Blatter added that he expected a great football festival.
One of the highlights of the 30-minute opening ceremony is the appearance of 170 past World Cup winners - among them Diego Maradona and Pele.
All 22 players of Germany's 1974 World Cup-winning squad, as well as all but Thomas Haessler of the 1990 winning side. "It will be a real parade of giants," said Blatter.
German supermodel Claudia Schiffer and Pele will carry the trophy into the stadium for the ceremony, which will be opened by German President Horst Koehler.
Well-known German TV personality Thomas Gottschalk is to be the master of ceremonies.
"The ceremony should not be compared with that of the Olympics. It is a small afternoon ceremony without much hype," said Christian Stueckl, who is responsible for the ceremony.
He will use a cast of 1,400 to present a show that combines traditional Bavarian aspects like dancers in leather pants (Lederhosen), as well as hiphop and breakdancers.
The World Cup slogan, "a time to make friends" will run through the programme, Stueckl said.
Blatter and Beckenbauer confirmed that they would not be saying anything at the opening. "I do not find it difficult not to say anything. The people in the stadium want to see the 170 world champions," Blatter said.
"If Franz Beckenbauer speaks, all would cheer, but if I am given the microphone everybody would boo, even if I say nothing," Blatter added.
The OK vice president Wolfgang Niersbach said that he was eagerly awaiting the start. "After such a long road we are glad that the first ball will finally be kicked."
The only problem remaining was ticketing, he said.
"We will not manage to solve this 100 percent, even though 99 percent of the tickets have been sold," Beckenbauer said. "It is impossible to prevent seats being empty, but we will not have empty blocks."