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Financial Concerns Raised over Germany's World Cup Infrastructure

Organisers of the 2006 World Cup soccer tourn-ament dismissed a newspaper report in the German business daily Handelsblatt on Thursday, which claimed that the transport infrastructure in the 12 German venues might not be completed on time due to lack of funds. This despite the fact that Germany's cash-strapped government has slashed the budget for the rail and road projects in cities such as Munich and Hamburg to €350 million from €500 million. "We are not worried at all and we expect all the transport projects to be ready for the finals," said local organising committee spokesman Gerd Graus. However, Handelsblatt quoted Karl-Geert Kuchenbecker, a coordinator for World Cup transport issues and an adviser to soccer's governing body FIFA, as saying, "We are still on the way, but the time situation is gradually becoming dramatic." Some of the projects were started too late and there is a danger they will not be completed on time, he added. FIFA expects some 3.2 million visitors to attend the World Cup finals in June and July 2006, with about 1.2 million travelling to Germany from abroad.