June 4, 2006

Ahmadinejad would face frosty World Cup welcome

BERLIN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
can count on a tongue-lashing from the head of the German
football association (DFB) and other leaders if he comes to
Germany to support Iran in the World Cup.

DFB co-president Theo Zwanziger said on Sunday he was
against banning Ahmadinejad from the tournament starting on
Friday over his controversial remarks questioning whether the
Holocaust happened, because that would only "make him a

"If he does come and enters Germany, then he will naturally
be told in all clarity that what he said is absolutely
unacceptable, criminal and far removed from reality," Zwanziger
told Deutschlandfunk radio.

Ahmadinejad has faced criticism across Europe in the past
for inflammatory remarks about Israel and statements
questioning whether the Holocaust happened. Six million Jews
were killed by the Nazis and their allies in concentration

Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders have criticized
his remarks about the Holocaust as unacceptable but refrained
from banning him. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany,
punishable by up to five years in prison.

Zwanziger said he hoped Ahmadinejad would stay away but he
did not want to ban him. The Iranian president has left open
whether he will go. Iran play Mexico in their first match on
June 11 in Nuremberg.

"My decision depends on a lot of different things,"
Ahmadinejad told a German magazine last week. "Whether I have
time, whether I want to and some other things."