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FIFA:  Germany to Play Opening Match of 2006 World Cup


Football's world governing body FIFA announced Wednesday that host Germany will play in the opening match of the 2006 World Cup finals.

Germany will kick off the sport's most prestigious tournament on June 9, 2006 in Munich. Germany national coach Juergen Klinsmann had wanted to leave that honor to another team, preferably defending champion Brazil.

Since 1974, the defending champion has played the opening match of the tournament, but a rule change by FIFA means that even defending champions now have to qualify. The host nation is the only team given an automatic berth.

FIFA also announced Wednesday said that the final draw for the 32-nation tournament will be held in Leipzig, Germany on December 9, 2005. The final is scheduled for July 9 in Berlin.

Some information for this story provided by AP.

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