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SOCCER / GRAHAME L. JONES : Brazilian Pipeline Feeding Japan Bypasses U.S.

October 30, 1995|GRAHAME L. JONES

For those wondering how Japan's J-League stacks up against Major League Soccer, consider this:

Seven members of Brazil's World Cup-winning team of 1994 now play in Japan, where they are among 34 Brazilians in the league.

Five of the J-League's 14 teams are coached by Brazilians.

MLS has yet to sign its first player or coach from the country that produces arguably the greatest flow of talent in the world.

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Juergen Klinsmann fans in Germany who want an unusual souvenir of the Bayern Munich and German national team striker can thank Kicker magazine for providing one.

The publication is giving away Klinsmann "body parts" with each week's issue. Collect all 19 and piece them together and you have a life-size color poster of the 1990 World Cup winner.

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Less than a week after the ceremony in New York at which Major League Soccer unveiled its 10 team names and logos, Washington D.C. United has changed its logo.

Gone is the image that reminded many people of the more unpleasant aspects of German history--an imperial eagle balancing precariously on a single soccer ball.

In its place is a more "rounded and softened" Thanksgiving-ready bird, a user-friendly American eagle, centered over three soccer balls that, in turn, are superimposed over stars.

"We wanted to Americanize the logo a bit more," General Manager Kevin Payne said.

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Organizers of next summer's European Championship, which has been increased for the first time to 16 finalists, are predicting a cumulative global television audience of 6.9 billion viewers in 150 countries.

If correct, that would make the June 8-30 tournament in England the third-largest televised sporting event in the world after the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

After two years of play, the final round of qualifying games takes place on Nov. 15, after which 15 of the 16 finalists will be known.

England, as the host nation, qualifies along with the winners of each of the eight groups, as do the six second-place teams with the best record. The other two second-place teams will hold a one-game playoff in Liverpool on Dec. 13 for the final spot.

The draw to divide the 16 into four groups will be held Dec. 17 in Birmingham, England.

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While Euro '96 is rapidly approaching, the countdown already has begun for Euro 2000. Earlier this year, in a precedent-setting move, Belgium and the Netherlands were jointly awarded the European Championship in the year 2000. It will be the first time two countries will share a major championship.

UEFA, which controls European soccer, has announced that the 16-nation finals will be played in the cities of Anderlecht, Brussels, Bruges, Charleroi and Liege in Belgium and in Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven and Rotterdam in Holland.

Both nations will qualify automatically for the finals, while qualifying among the other 47 UEFA nations will begin in fall 1998, after the World Cup in France.

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It had to happen sooner or later. According to Keir Radenage, editor of World Soccer magazine, a soccer-crazy couple in England have named their newborn daughter Fifa.

The news has not yet brought any reaction from FIFA, world soccer's ruling body.

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Roberto Carlos, the Brazilian defender who joined Inter Milan for more than $7 million this season, has a shot that has been timed at 81 m.p.h., beating the world record that had been held by former Dutch star Ronald Koeman.

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One Spanish bank's novel idea of attracting customers has not been well received elsewhere in Europe.

Investors who deposited a minimum of $1,600 in the Banco Directo for a minimum of three years are guaranteed 13% interest if they correctly predicted the winner of the Spanish League. If not, their interest rate would be only 4%.

Participants can make the wager in each of the three years their money is held.

But bankers elsewhere are unimpressed by the tie between soccer and finance.

"We are a bank, not a casino," sniffed one German banker.

"It is unbelievable. It would be totally impossible in France," another banker in Paris told The European newspaper.

But in England, the idea was greeted with interest.

"It's not something we would dismiss outright," said one bank spokesman. "It would be an idea to consider."

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Carlos Alberto, captain of Brazil's superb 1970 World Cup-winning team who later played for the Cosmos and California Surf in the North American Soccer League, apparently is not impressed with Nigeria.

Appointed national team coach earlier this year at a salary of $150,000, he stayed only a few weeks, then returned to Rio de Janeiro for what was described as a short holiday.

He has not been back to Lagos, and many believe that he has abandoned the job.

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Another Brazilian World Cup winner, forward Bebeto of the 1994 team, says he wants to leave his Spanish club, Deportivo La Coruna, after this season and play in Japan.

And that, it seems, brings us full circle.

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