A survey published on 10 January by the German consumer watchdog Sifting Warentest claims that the World Cup football stadiums in Berlin, Kaiserslautern, Leipzig, and Gelsenkirchen are substantially unsafe. Germany is hosting the month-long 2006 World Cup finals this summer, kicking off with the first match on 9 June in Munich with Germany versus Costa Rica. Sifting Warentests survey finds fault with general safety, escape routes and construction techniques. It highlights the fact that in the event of a fire or an explosion fans do not have easy access to the pitch. The report also suggests that the eight other World Cup stadiums also have safety problems but of a less serious nature.
Despite the fact that their claims have been rejected out of hand by the president of the World Cup's organizing committee, Franz Beckenbauer, the authors of the survey, Falk Murke and Jrgen Ambrecht insist that these stadiums do not comply with the safety guidelines laid down by footballs international body FIFA.
The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, where the World Cup final will be played on 9 July, has come in for special criticism due to a nine-foot ditch that separates the stands from the pitch. The ditch would present a further hazard for panicking fans trying to escape onto the pitch. The German World Cup organizers in response have pointed out that recently built multi-tiered stadiums must, by their very nature, have escape routes that lead to the outside rather than onto the pitch.