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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

January 14, 1998|LISA DILLMAN

What: "The Rough Guide to European Football: A Fans' Handbook."

Price: $23.95.

The old way: Pick up a local paper--if you can read the language--and see if it is possible to make that Primera Liga game: Longrones-Tenerife at Longrones, Spain. Then drive several hours and hope there is some friendly soul to direct you to the stadium.

A better way: Buy this book.

Although the useful guide sticks to larger cities in Europe--you won't find Longrones here--it provides information about soccer in 27 European countries, including the range of information in local and national newspapers and World Wide Web addresses.

Practical matters are addressed. When in Belgium, one would say: Hoe kom ik in de stadion? (Flemish) or Ou est le stade? (French).

The all important question: Where is the stadium?

The book, which became available earlier this month in the United States, is useful for making World Cup plans.

There is also a page on France '98, plans and preparation for the World Cup.

Historical information is interspersed. The Belgians led the effort to set up FIFA, soccer's international ruling body. In the first World Cup, the Belgians traveled by ship in 1930 to Uruguay. And the 10-day trip took its toll. Bernard Voorhoof, the team's star striker, drank so much beer he gained 17 pounds.

Sounds as if Voorhoof was the spiritual predecessor of the high-spirited, high-flying Brit, Paul Gascoigne.

At least Gazza, as he is known, won't have to be confined on any ship before getting to this year's World Cup. He'll find other ways to become a historical figure.

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