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Germany

Bavarian Dancers Outraged by World Cup Snub

For Bavaria's traditional thigh-slapping folk dancers, it's a slap in the face. The organizers of the World Cup 2006 opening ceremonies have limited the folk dancers' appearance to just 45 seconds.

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Word to the World Cup organizers -- this is how it's done properly

A row that has erupted between World Cup organizers and representatives from the Bavarian folk scene is threatening to leave the soccer tournament's opening ceremonies on June 9 in Munich completely devoid of Trachtler -- those lederhosen-wearing, thigh-slapping dancers that have come to embody southern German culture.

Moving to the tight pace of television, those at the helm of the opening ceremonies have decreed that the folk dancers should get a mere 45 seconds in the limelight -- hardly enough time to do the art form justice, the irate deputy president of the Bavarian folk dancing association fumed.

"We won't allow ourselves to be made fools of," Bernd Walter said. "If they don't give us any longer, we simply won't take part."

No women allowed

Adding insult to injury, the folk dancers have also had to swallow the news that their dirndl-clad female counterparts won't be allowed to take part at all.

"The girls take up too much space, so they won't be permitted to perform," Sepp Lausch of the folk dancing association told Munich's Abendzeitung.

Trachtenumzug auf dem Oktoberfest in München

Bavaria's Trachtler are prepared to walk if they don't get more air time

The organizers have argued that, as the World Cup is being hosted by all of Germany, it would be unfair to give the Bavarian dancers a starring role in the opening ceremonies. That view has not gone down well with fiercely proud Bavarian people. In a recent poll for Bavarian state radio, 70 percent of those surveyed said that since the celebrations were happening in Munich, they ought to have an overtly Bavarian theme.

The World Cup organizers have appealed for calm from the angry dancers, saying that nothing concrete has been decided yet and that many options are still being discussed. As for Bernd Walter, his dreams of seeing his dancers take center stage -- for longer than 45 seconds -- have not yet entirely been dashed. "I hope the last word hasn't been spoken on this," Walter said.

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