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Franz Beckenbauer believes that diving and playacting are undermining the image of the Bundesliga.

“We used to always complain that the Italians were actors,” Beckenbauer, told Bild newspaper. “But they were heroes compared to our league now.”

There have been a number of incidents in the Bundesliga this season involving players falling to the ground and feigning injury to influence referee decisions .

“The image of the league is just terrible,” said Beckenbauer, a Bayern Munich executive and Germany’s World Cup organising committee president. “There’s far too much provocation and theatre.

“It’s unfortunately a reflection of the general trend in Germany,” he said. “It’s no coincidence that our clubs make early exits from the Champions League. I just hope that we’ll have clean matches at the World Cup.”

Beckenbauer said he was in favour of using television replays to punish offenders.

“One of the 25 or more television cameras in the stadiums always seems to capture these ugly incidents,” he said. “There should be a drastic fine afterwards. Not €10,000 but €250,000 so that it really hurts.”

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