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WORLD CUP DAILY REPORT / NOTES

When He Says No Media, He Means It

June 19, 1998| From Wire Reports

Mexico Coach Manuel Lapuente ordered his security team to confront media members who got too close to the practice field Thursday at Nangis.

Toward the end of a closed practice, members of the Mexican security team approached the reporters outside the stadium and confiscated several rolls of film. Several French policemen stood nearby, but did not intervene.

The Mexican security detail said it was carrying out Lapuente's orders and took the reporters' and photographers' notes and film. Rafael Ramos, reporter for the Spanish daily La Opinion of Los Angeles, resisted, but had his notes taken anyway.

They also confiscated film from a photographer who shot several frames of the incident.

"We're only carrying out Mr. Lapuente's orders. The practice is closed and he doesn't want any reporters nearby," said one of the Mexican security men, who did not identify himself.

Stung by criticism about Mexico's poor performance leading into the World Cup, Lapuente has closed all practices, including Thursday's two-hour session.

*

Nearly 15,000 World Cup tickets and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash were stolen Thursday from the Paris office of an American travel agency, which offered a huge reward for their return.

The theft was the latest incident to hit World Cup ticket sales plagued by fraud or other illicit practices. FIFA President Sepp Blatter threatened punitive measures.

"This whole ticketing operation should be reviewed" before the next World Cup, he told France Info radio. The alleged fraud by certain companies or associations is "something that shocks us."

In the meantime, he said, FIFA's disciplinary commission "could intervene with these associations and even . . . sanction them."

*

A teary Faustino Asprilla apologized Thursday for comments that led to his dismissal from Colombia's World Cup team and asked for a second chance.

Coach Hernan Dario Gomez said he's studying the situation, but admitted he "liked what Faustino had to say."

Asprilla, a star forward, was thrown off the squad Wednesday for publicly criticizing Gomez. He left the team's hotel in Tour-du-Pin, south of Paris, and was staying in the French capital with his agent.

"I want to offer my apologies to the president [of the Colombian Soccer Federation], his executive committee, the head coach, my teammates, and, of course, the Colombian people," Asprilla said, reading a prepared statement.

"If our head coach considers my being here important, I'm willing to follow, enthusiastically and with discipline, all World Cup rules, as I've always done."

Gomez told Colombia's Radio Caracol he was not ruling out taking back Asprilla and that he'll study the striker's apology.

"But I don't know what the decision will be," he said. "The truth is, those are nice words by Faustino."

*

Marseille officials, pressured by cafe owners, eased tough alcohol restrictions for a weekend World Cup match.

Alcohol can be sold an hour later than originally planned, until midnight, and cafes and restaurants can remain open until 4 a.m.

Carry-out alcoholic drinks remain forbidden throughout the weekend, starting Friday night.

*

A video linkup between New York and Tehran will give Americans and Iranians a chance to discuss their lives and U.S.-Iran relations before, during and after Sunday's politically charged World Cup match, organizers of the video event said Thursday.

In the linkup on large video screens via digital satellite, a group of eight soccer enthusiasts will gather at New York University's sports center to converse with a similarly sized group of Iranian fans in Tehran.

"Our belief is that nothing makes stereotypes crumble faster than real people talking face-to-face about the things that really matter to them," said David Hoffman, president of the organizers, Internews. The group is a nonprofit organization that supports independent broadcast journalists.

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