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2006 World Cup Kicks Off in Germany

As soccer's World Cup kicks off in Germany, two authors talk about the history and culture of the tournament.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Every four years, the world comes together around the little black-and-white ball, a carnival scene mixing sport and revelry with a not-so-subtle undertone of nationalism.

    The World Cup 2006 edition began today across Germany. Thirty-two teams from all around the world, Mexico, Brazil, the U.S., are all here. Even the team from Togo in West Africa qualified this time; they brought along a voodoo priest to help.

    And the host country has worked hard to accommodate the peculiarities of soccer fans in celebration. Security at games and events is tight, as Germany expects some 40,000 English fans to descend on Frankfurt on Saturday. So far, there have been no major problems.

  • SOCCER FAN:

    Good humor, good fun, and just enjoy the football.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    But Germany has called these games "A Time to make Friends," a welcoming motto meant to ease any tensions before exuberance gets out of hand. For fans and organizers alike, there's a lot at stake.

  • COSTA RICAN SOCCER FAN:

    The biggest upset of the World Cup this year: Costa Rica, 1…

  • COSTA RICAN SOCCER FAN:

    And it's happening Friday, tonight.

  • COSTA RICAN SOCCER FAN:

    … Costa Rica 1, Germany 0.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Alas, that fan's hopes were dashed. In the first game of the cup, Costa Rica lost to home field Germany 4-2.