Security scores big at tournament

Germany is anxious about next month's World Cup soccer tournament -- in both senses of the word.

The country is thrilled to host one of the most coveted sports events on the planet. Who wouldn't be? Yet it's also worried that something could go wrong, terribly wrong, as it did in 1972 when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

More than three decades later, Germany is once again a global showplace. And, sadly, the potential for something to go wrong is as great -- if not greater -- than it was back then. Even if German security officials admit they're most worried about hooligans flinging beer bottles at fans, they won't deny their fear of neonazis throwing some punches at foreigners or, even worse, Islamic terrorists tossing a few bombs in crowded stadiums.

Not surprisingly, security is a top priority for the German government, even higher than its desire to see the national team walk off the pitch with the World Cup 2006 trophy.

The list of security precautions the government is taking is substantial. It begins with the use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology. More than 3.5 million tickets for the 64 matches will be sold with an embedded RFID chip containing identification information that will be checked against a database as fans pass through entrance gates at all 12 stadiums.

Organizers have asked everyone requesting tickets to provide a wealth of personal data, including name, address, date of birth, nationality and number of ID card or passport. Never before have fans attending an event organized by the F

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