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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Germany offer open training as gesture to Dortmund football fans

Germany offer open training as gesture to Dortmund football fans

Germany, looking to head off a hostile reception, will hold a public training session in Dortmund next week, a day before playing a friendly against the United States, the German Football Association (DFB) said on Monday.

The decision to allow fans into training at the Dortmund stadium on 21 March, is aimed at rebuilding local goodwill towards the team and coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Officials fear Dortmund fans might boo Klinsmann and his team at the friendly after the coach said Borussia Dortmund defender Christian Worns would play no role in the FIFA World Cup.

"I can understand how the fans in Dortmund feel but they must accept the coach's decisions," DFB president Theo Zwanziger said last week. "We must all support the national team. We must go into this World Cup believing that we can win it."

Klinsmann controversially ruled out the seasoned Worns after the player had criticised the coach's management style in the media.

The national coach, under scrutiny since a 4-1 friendly defeat by Italy on 1 March, has also faced criticism for his decision to remain based in the US instead of moving back to Germany.

After arriving in Germany on Sunday, Klinsmann said he would spend most of his time in his native country from now until the start of the FIFA World Cup finals on 9 June.

A DFB spokseman said no banner hostile to Klinsmann would be tolerated in the Dortmund stands next week.

"The Dortmund fans have always supported the national team in an exemplary manner," Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said in a statement on Monday. "We are looking forward to meeting them again next week."

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