World Cup organisers have refuted the claims that fans could be in danger at this summer’s tournament, claiming all 12 stadiums have passed safety tests.
The response came after Stiftung Warentest, a German consumer protection group, suggested that deficiencies existed in the stadiums preparing to host this year’s World Cup.
“The results were sobering. Many of the conclusions drawn 20 years ago have either been forgotten or partly ignored,” Holger Brackemann, department chief at Stiftung Warentest, told a news conference.
He added that new stadiums were often narrower and steeper than the multi-purpose stadiums they replaced, presenting fresh risks to the public.
Stiftung Warentest found that three World Cup stadiums in particular – Gelsenkirchen, Leipzig and final venue Berlin – were not prepared in the event of an emergency evacuation. Elsewhere, the stadium in Kaiserslautern was regarded a fire hazard, the report claimed.
Overall, the group rated four stadiums as having a few shortcomings, four more as having clear failings and a final four, including Berlin, as having serious problems.
Franz Beckenbauer, head of Germany’s World Cup organising committee, had earlier criticised Stiftung Warentest.
“I’m really sick and tired of the army of know-it-alls trying to lift their profile at the expense of the World Cup.”
Organising committee vice president Wolfgang Niersbach responded to Tuesday’s report by claiming Germany’s stadiums were the envy of the sporting world.
“The organising committee is open to any suggestions which aim to improve the general framework, and thus also the implementation of this incredible project that is the 2006 FIFA World Cup,” he said in a statement.
“We will, however, resist any unnecessary attempts at spreading panic, which will only serve to create uncertainty amongst fans and harm the image and reputation of the 2006 World Cup.
“Foreigners envy us. Visitors came to the Confederations Cup and marvelled,” he said.
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