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WORLD CUP Notebook : United States May Play Host to 1994 World Cup : But It Must Begin Organizing Now to Beat Out Brazil, an FIFA Official Says

May 29, 1986|GRAHAME L. JONES | Times Staff Writer

MEXICO CITY — The United States is being seriously considered as a candidate to play host to soccer's World Cup in 1994. A high-level official of the Federation International de Football Assns. (FIFA), who requested anonymity, said that his organization believes the quadrennial tournament could very well be staged in the United States in eight years.

"It is between the United States and Brazil," he said. "The United States has a good chance if it begins organizing now. It will take someone like (Peter) Ueberroth to do it."

The success of the soccer tournament in the 1984 Olympics impressed many FIFA officials. Total attendance surpassed 1.4 million, making it the largest-drawing sport in the Los Angeles Games.

The World Cup alternates every four years between Europe and the Americas. The 1990 tournament will be played in Italy. The decision on the 1994 World Cup will be made by FIFA in two years.

Gold and no gold: While Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid was handing out gold in Acapulco, Portuguese Prime Minister Mario Soares was discouraging such handouts in Lisbon.

At a ceremony in the Mexican resort, De la Madrid presented a diploma and gold medal to Guillermo Canedo, chairman of Mexico's World Cup Organizing Committee, for his work in promoting Mexico's image abroad.

Soares, meanwhile, sent a telegram to the Portuguese Football Federation voicing support for its stance in refusing to increase the financial incentive to the Portuguese World Cup players.

In Monterrey, where Portugal is preparing for its opening game against England next Tuesday, the unhappy players went on strike Sunday, then reluctantly ended their three-day training boycott Wednesday. They had refused to play a training game on Sunday and had said they would boycott a planned Wednesday game.

"The argument has been going on now for five months," Manuel Bento, Portugal's captain, said earlier in the week, explaining that the players are asking for $750 each per first-round game but that the Portuguese Federation would not indicate how much, if anything, the players will be paid.

On Wednesday, the players backed down without explanation, saying they would give their reasons in a press conference tonight.

Yes, but imagine the postage: Although only a few hundred South Korean fans have been able to make the long trek to Mexico to watch their team, South Korea's players know their countrymen are behind them.

A gigantic postcard measuring 9 feet 10 inches by 14-9 and signed by 35,000 South Korean fans has been delivered to the team's hotel, where it has been put on display.

Aztec high tech: Among the many amenities at the Mexico City's International Press Center, a multi-level complex serving the 5,000 journalists covering the World Cup, is an electronic information and message system known as SICOM '86.

The computerized system, similar to the one used in the Los Angeles Olympics, is constantly updated with new information from each of the nine cities where the 52 matches will be played beginning Saturday. The information is available in English, Spanish, French and German.

No matter what the language, though, the translation sometimes leaves something to be desired, even when the subject is trivia.

On Monday, for example, the world's media were informed that "the great Peruvian crack, Teofilo Cubillas, was at the International Press Center's cafeteria."

Just what Spanish word resulted in the former Peruvian World Cup star and now SIN television commentator being called a "crack" is unknown, but similar odd examples crop up daily in the computer.

On Wednesday, reporters who had been worried about obtaining tickets to the matches were told: "In case there were any problems during the accreditation and distribution process, we ask you to be patient and comprehensive"

Weather watch: Among the things SICOM '86 is churning out is a daily weather forecast for each of the nine World Cup cities, including high and low temperatures and humidity, wind speed and direction, and sky conditions. The forecasts, the computer says, "will be 80% accurate."

Maybe so, but SICOM '86 is not able to change the weather, which is what at least two World Cup coaches--Guy Thys of Belgium and Bobby Robson of England--would like.

Because of heavy rains earlier in the week, Thys instituted a new soccer fashion, ordering his players to wear raincoats while practicing in a downpour. Robson's problems in Monterrey, meanwhile, were of another order, namely heat.

"The climate here would be great for a holiday," he said. "But since we can't change it, we'll have to put up with it."

FIFA on Wednesday issued a list of referees and linesmen for the first-round matches.

David Socha, the only American taking part in the tournament, will serve as a linesman in Sunday's Brazil-Spain game at Guadalajara and in the Paraguay-Iraq game at Toluca on June 4. He will referee the Italy-South Korea match at Puebla on June 10.


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