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Soccer Thugs Riot! (Not)

German officials had two big World Cup fears: a humiliating home-field loss and soccer-related hooliganism and neo-Nazi violence against foreign visitors. German hopes got spiked by a spunky Italian team that beat France in the final July 9, but the violence level turned out to be surprisingly low. Sure, 429 brawlers were arrested after a Germany-Poland match. But unless you were on the receiving end of French star Zinedine Zidane's ill-timed tete-butt, the 2006 World Cup was indeed a safe place to be. Which prognosticators were on-target about the chances for violence, and who deserves a yellow card for crying wolf?— Stanislav Budnitsky

"During the World Cup, everyone can feel safe wherever he goes in Germany."
— German interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, to The Times (June 10)

"We have seen on radical right and neo-Nazi websites they plan to target black people. All of East Germany is unsafe."
Jonas Endrias, vice president of the International League of Human Rights, to The Times (June 2)

"There's a lot of rivalry between Germans and Poles, and big potential for violence."
Geoff Pearson of Liverpool University, to the Mirror (March 17)


Non-white visitors should "avoid visiting small and midsize towns in Brandenburg and elsewhere in eastern Germany, or they may not leave with their lives."
— former German government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye, in the New York Times (June 4)

"I would not write off Germany as a racist country, [but] I would stop short of saying there is any place you absolutely can't go to."
Celal Altun, secretary general of the Turkish Council, to AP (June 2)

"48 matches and we have none classified as high risk — the future is positive."
Horst Schmidt, German organizing committee vice president, to AP (June 4)

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