April 18, 2006

Golden ball will be used in World Cup final

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - A golden ball will be used at the World
Cup final on July 9, organizing committee president Franz
Beckenbauer said on Tuesday.

"It only surprises me that no one thought of it before,"
Beckenbauer said at a bizarre ceremony at Berlin's Brandenburg
Gate, where he removed a golden wrap off the 2.2-meter diameter
ball with help from gold-painted Greek warriors.

"The final is such a special occasion for the players, the
coaches and the fans around the world.

"Creating a special ball for this match, the most important
match every four years, was a great idea."

Adidas chairman Herbert Hainer said the golden ball would
be identical to those used throughout the month-long tournament
in Germany except six of the 14 panels would be colored gold.

"We would definitely like to see this as the start of a new
tradition for the final match," he told Reuters. "We'll do this
again but try to come up with something special for each

The sets of 15 balls for each match at the tournament that
runs from June 9 to July 9 will for the first time have the
names of the teams, venue, date and kickoff time.

They will all be made in Thailand, with the exception of
the 15 balls for the final which will be produced in Germany.

Hainer denied a newspaper report the World Cup winners
would be entitled to play with gold balls for the next four

All 32 sides in the finals will receive a pre-tournament
shipment of 20 balls for training purposes.

The 1966 World Cup was the last tournament to feature a
ball without any company logo. Adidas has provided the balls
for the tournament since 1970 and has the rights until 2014.