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Violence Prompts World Cup Security Review

Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page D02

World Cup organizers are reviewing security for next year's showcase tournament following the worst violence in five years by German hooligans.

Spectators tore out stadium seats and fought with police and opposing fans during their country's 1-0 exhibition victory at Slovenia on Saturday. They also vandalized downtown Celja.

"The World Cup organizing committee takes the incident very seriously. That's also true of our politicians -- our security concepts must be reviewed," said Alfred Sengle, head of security for the German soccer federation.

Plans to prevent another outbreak will be discussed at a World Cup security meeting with FIFA and German officials planned for May, Sengle said.

The security plan will be tested at the Confederations Cup in June when the world's eight regional champions will play each other in Germany.

German newspapers were filled yesterday with pictures of flares thrown onto the field and faces bloodied in the melees.

"We fear for our beautiful World Cup -- stop the troublemakers," was the headline in Bild, Germany's largest daily.

Slovenian police arrested 65 people, 45 from Germany. At the 2000 European Championship, German hooligans battled their English counterparts, leading to 98 arrests.

German officials stopped short of blaming Slovenia for underestimating the threat. They had tipped off the country's soccer organization to about 250 known troublemakers traveling to the game.

"Maybe we were too careless, too. The danger can't be underestimated -- we need better international cooperation," said Franz Beckenbauer, head of the World Cup committee.

German officials say hooligans won't be able to repeat in Germany what they pulled off in Slovenia. In Cejla, the hooligans were able to buy tickets at the gates and, in some cases, overrun stadium personnel to get in without paying.

-- From News Services

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