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SOCCERINSIDER : THE GLOBAL GAME

France's Zidane Could Top the Charts in Europe

November 11, 1998|From Staff and Wire Reports

Eight members of France's victorious 1998 World Cup team are among 50 candidates for European player of the year.

The favorite for the award sponsored annually by France Football magazine is Juventus midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who finished third in 1997 and was key to France's World Cup success.

European champion Real Madrid has seven players under consideration, among them Predrag Mijatovic of Yugoslavia, who finished second behind Brazil's Ronaldo in last year's voting and scored the winning goal in the European Cup final against Juventus in May.

South American players make up almost 20% of the nominees. Gabriel Batistuta and Ariel Ortega of Argentina and Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas of Chile, all of whom play in Italy's Serie A, are in the running.

Also under consideration, besides Inter Milan's Ronaldo, are three other Brazilians--Real Madrid's Roberto Carlos, Barcelona's Rivaldo and Real Betis' Denilson.

England's nominees include Liverpool teenager Michael Owen, Arsenal defender Tony Adams, who led the London club to the Premier League and FA Cup double; and Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman.

Also under consideration are Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars of the Netherlands, Hidetoshi Nakata, the Japanese playmaker with Perugia in Italy, and Nigerian defender Sunday Oliseh of Ajax Amsterdam.

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World champion France, which was to have played the United States in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the Confederations' Cup in January before it withdrew from the tournament, has agreed to play Morocco at Marseille on Jan. 20 and England at Wembley on Feb. 10.

France backed down in the face of threats by Italian, Spanish and English clubs that said they would not release their French players for the Mexico event.

Postponement of the tournament until July or August is being considered, and that could lead to France's agreeing to take part, a FIFA spokesman said. A decision will be made Tuesday.

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Former French national team captain Jean-Pierre Papin, who scored 30 goals in 54 games for his country, is expected to announce his retirement from soccer next week.

"It's a very tough decision to take, perhaps the hardest, because I've been playing football for 25 years," Papin, 35, told France Football magazine.

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French World Cup '98 striker Stephane Guivarc'h is expected to leave Newcastle United in England and sign with Scotland's Glasgow Rangers for $5.8 million. Guivarc'h had not impressed Newcastle Coach Ruud Gullit.

"Gullit told me I wasn't in his plans," Guivarc'h said. "He never gave me a chance and so was never able to judge me. He said absolutely nothing to me. And I never knew why. Maybe he just doesn't like my style."

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Two members of France's national team have been sidelined.

Real Madrid midfielder Christian Karembeu will be out for at least two months after tearing ligaments in his right knee in a collision with teammate Fernando Morientes during training.

Goalkeeper Lionel Charbonnier of Rangers is out for the season after injuring his knee during the Scottish club's UEFA Cup victory over Bayer Leverkusen of Germany.

WORLD TOUR

COLOMBIA: Former Colombian national team striker Faustino Asprilla flew home to Colombia from Italy to have a piece of cartilage removed from his right knee. Asprilla, who plays for Parma in Italy's Serie A, will be sidelined for a month.

ENGLAND: One of soccer's most famous landmarks, the twin towers of Wembley Stadium in London, are likely to be demolished under a redevelopment plan for a $243-million, 80,000-seat national stadium, England's Sunday Telegraph reported. The newspaper said architects had concluded the towers will have to be torn down to accommodate their design for the new stadium.

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Forward Dion Dublin, 29, was transferred from Coventry City to league leader Aston Villa for $9.5 million. Earlier, Dublin turned down moves to Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers, both of which had offered a larger transfer fee.

NIGERIA: The FIFA World Youth Cup is scheduled to be played in Nigeria in April, but a health team inspecting Nigerian facilities on FIFA's behalf reported inadequate emergency and laboratory facilities at match venues. Nigeria had been scheduled to stage the same tournament in 1995 but it was switched to Qatar after FIFA decided that Nigerian health care and security arrangements were unsatisfactory. Argentina is a stand-by host for the April event should FIFA again decide to move it.

SPAIN: Hurricane Mitch left large portions of Central America devastated, and Lorenzo Sanz, the president of European champion Real Madrid, said soccer should stage a benefit match to aid the victims. Already, Diego Maradona has given his support, saying, "I'd love to play in this game, or at least be present at it. We can't ignore this type of catastrophe. It's a marvelous idea because today football generates a lot of money, which is what is needed after this terrible disaster."

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