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Kirch Worries the Fans

Sports fans could be among those to suffer the most from the financial crisis at German media company Kirch Group. Leo Kirch's Munich-based empire controls broadcast rights to German professional soccer and Formula One auto racing. Already, there is nervousness about whether Kirch Group, struggling under debts and obligations estimated as high as $11 billion, can keep making scheduled payments worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the nation's financially strapped teams. The company managed to make an installment last week, but if it has to delay or miss future payments, some soccer clubs could get hit. The sports angle helps explain why Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der is keeping a close eye on Kirch's woes. Take away televised soccer, and there could be a popular revolt. EDITED BY Edited by Rose Brady

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