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Golden ball to be used in World Cup final

BERLIN, April 18 (Reuters) - A golden ball will be used at the World Cup final on July 9, organising committee president Franz Beckenbauer said on Tuesday.

'It only surprises me that no one thought of it before,' Beckenbauer said at a bizarre ceremony at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, where he removed a golden wrap off the 2.2-metre diameter ball with help from gold-painted Greek warriors.

'The final is such a special occasion for the players, the coaches and the fans around the world.

'Creating a special ball for this match, the most important match every four years, was a great idea.'

Adidas chairman Herbert Hainer said the golden ball would be identical to those used throughout the month-long tournament in Germany except six of the 14 panels would be coloured gold.

'We would definitely like to see this as the start of a new tradition for the final match,' he said. 'We'll do this again but try to come up with something special for each final.'

The sets of 15 balls for each match at the tournament that runs from June 9 to July 9 will for the first time have the names of the teams, venue, date and kickoff time.

They will all be made in Thailand, with the exception of the 15 balls for the final which will be produced in Germany.

Hainer denied a newspaper report the World Cup winners would be entitled to play with gold balls for the next four years.

All 32 sides in the finals will receive a pre-tournament shipment of 20 balls for training purposes.

The 1966 World Cup was the last tournament to feature a ball without any company logo. Adidas has provided the balls for the tournament since 1970 and has the rights until 2014.