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Havelange Criticizes Europeans

October 21, 1998|GRAHAME L. JONES

Joao Havelange, the former president of FIFA, has criticized European soccer leaders for forcing him to agree to Japan and South Korea co-hosting the 2002 World Cup.

In an interview with France Football magazine, Havelange, 84, predicted it would lead to numerous financial and security problems.

South Korea already is behind on construction of stadiums for the event, a sharp contrast to Japan, which has completed construction of several new stadia.

"It's an error," Havelange said. "Which will be the governing currency? WHo will be responsible for security?

It was Havelange himself who made the proposal, but in a unique bit of spin-doctoring, he said it had only been under prompting from European officials.

"A president never loses," he said. "When I understood what they were plotting, I presented the proposition myself, so as not to be put in a difficult position."

GERMANY: Former national team star Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, now a vice-president at league-leading Bayern Munich, said he believes the game should be divided into three periods rather than two halves.

"That's something we should try," he said. "We must think of ways to allow the television channels to get their money back."

Munich's Olympic Stadium, built for the 1972 Olympic Games and the site of the 1974 World Cup final, will get a $184-million face lift that will include the addition of a transparent roof and additional stands that would slide out over the existing running track. Construction will begin next year.

ENGLAND: A report by one of the country's top fan groups has blasted security and ticketing arrangement for the France '98 World Cup and has accused the media of fomenting some of the rioting that occurred.

The 32-page report presented to the government by the Football Supporters' Assn., called ticket allocation "disgraceful," and said it had eyewitness reports of media personnel paying French and English fans to throw missiles and burn flags.

SPAIN: The Spanish League will not make any change in the number of foreign players allowed per team.

A meeting between representatives of the players' association, the league and the Spanish soccer federation failed to produce an agreement, so the status quo of six foreigners per team will remain.

"I don't understand this loyalty to foreign players," fumed player's association president Gerardo Gonzalez Movilla, who had wanted the number cut to four. "Some of them do not justify their appearance in our game. You have to take into account that there are Spanish players who are unemployed."

Barcelona will celebrate its centenary year by inviting Brazil to play a game at Nou Camp Stadium in April. Such a game could pit Ronaldo against his former club side.

NORWAY: Rosenborg Trondheim won its seventh consecutive Norwegian championship, but lost Coach Trond Sollied, who is leaving to coach Gent in the Belgian League.

NETHERLANDS: Feyenoord, one of the country's most famous clubs and a three-time European champion, is being investigated for tax fraud. The probe, expected to take three months, concerns transfer payments to foreign players.

IRAN: Mansour Pourheidari insisted he will remain as Iran's coach even though the Iranian soccer federation has hired Germany's Hans-Juergen Gede as part of the coaching staff. Gede, 41, coached Iran's Olympic team from 1993-95 and is expected to prepare Iran for the Asian Games in Bangkok in December.

EL SALVADOR: Former Brazilian World Cup player Marinho has been hired as coach of the Salvadoran national team. Marinho, 51, played for Brazil in the 1974 World Cup.

CROATIA: Goalkeeper Drazen Ladic, who helped Croatia finish third in the France '98 World Cup, has retired from the national team. "It's time for someone younger to get a chance," said Ladic, 35.

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