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Düsseldorf accused of using 'trickery' to win Eurovision

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Düsseldorf accused of using 'trickery' to win Eurovision
Photo: DPA
15:00 CET+01:00
The city of Düsseldorf may have made false promises in its winning bid to host the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest, according to a paper from the rival city of Hannover on Wednesday.

According to daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, the western German city possibly used "trickery" to beat out Berlin, Hamburg and Hannover for the honour of hosting the kitschy pop contest “under false pretences.”

Düsseldorf had promised that their 54,000-seat Esprit Arena would be available for six weeks of preparation, rehearsals and the competition on May 14.

To ensure this, the city's second division football team Fortuna Düsseldorf was to be moved to an old stadium that would be renovated to make it match-ready.

Due to previously unmentioned cost and safety concerns at the alternative stadium, the Düsseldorf Mayor Dirk Elbers now has another plan to set up a temporary stadium for 20,000 right next to the Esprit stadium to accommodate the team's three home games during that time, the paper said.

The problem? The plan has not been approved by the German Football League (DFL) and could cost several million euros more than the original proposal.

The new plans were first presented to the DFL on December 6.

“That means winning the right to host the Grand Prix came before the city had made the final decision for Fortuna's move,” the paper said, adding that there were also suspicions that Düsseldorf had used “incomplete” cost calculations.

City officials denied the accusations.

There was no “trickery” that went on, a city spokesperson told the paper.

“One has only tried to optimise the situation,” the spokesperson said, explaining that the city had discovered the alternative stadium's shortcomings only after the application had been accepted.

Negotiations are still underway to find a solution, the spokesperson added.

Germany won the right to host the legendary kitschy pop contest after teen singing sensation Lena Meyer-Landrut triumphed at this year's Eurovision in Norway.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO GALLERY OF LENA.

Though the Grand Prix is normally held in the capital of the host country, several German cities had hoped to attract the event. Berlin, Hamburg and Lena's hometown Hannover had all been in the running, but Germany's fractious network of regional public broadcasters created a convoluted selection process.

NDR, the public broadcaster responsible for Eurovision, said that before choosing Düsseldorf it had examined several logistical and financial considerations, including what kind of hall would be available, how useful it would be for producing a television show and costs, as well as transport and hotel infrastructure.

But Lena, who is likely to defend her title this year, said shortly after she won in Oslo that she favoured Berlin as the best place to host Eurovision next year.

Meanwhile tickets for the main event that went on sale Monday evening are already being found for several hundred euros each on the black market, prompting broadcaster NDR to consider sanctions against the scalpers.

Some 32,000 tickets priced between €89 and €189 sold out within a few hours after a rush on the site crashed servers. Buyers agreed not to resell the tickets at higher prices, but that didn't stop some from putting them up on eBay for prices reaching as high as €500.

From Wednesday on fans can also purchase tickets to see rehearsals on May 13.

The Local/DPA/ka

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