Germany will play the opening match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, FIFA has confirmed.
The decision to allow the hosts to open the tournament breaks with recent tradition. Since 1974 the holders have played the first game. But as the defending champions no longer gain automatic qualification, Germany will take part in the curtain-raiser in Munich on 9 June 2006.
The draw for the will be staged in Leipzig on 9 December 2005, the FIFA confirmed. Also confirmed are the kick-off times for games, which will be 3pm, 6pm and 9pm CET for group matches, 5pm and 9pm from the knock-out stage, and 8pm for the final in Berlin on 9 July 2006.