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High Schools | Soccer DAILY REPORT

Ronaldo's in Running for FIFA World Player

November 19, 2002|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Ronaldo's on-field performances have left much to be desired since he led Brazil to its fifth World Cup title in June, but Monday the 26-year-old Real Madrid striker was one of three players named as finalists for the 2002 FIFA world player of the year award.

German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn of Bayern Munich and French playmaker Zinedine Zidane, also of Real Madrid, are Ronaldo's two rivals for the honor.

The Brazilian won the award, which is voted on by national team coaches, in 1996 and 1997, while Zidane was the winner in 1998 and 2000. No goalkeeper has won since the honor's inception in 1991.

The three finalists for the 2002 FIFA women's world player of the year award all play in the Women's United Soccer Assn. They are forward Mia Hamm of the United States, last year's winner, forward Birgit Prinz of Germany and playmaker Sun Wen of China, last year's runner-up.

FIFA will announce the winners in Madrid on Dec. 17.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo already has been selected as player of the year by the influential French magazine Onze Mondial and is in line to be named European player of the year.

Along with Real Madrid teammates Roberto Carlos and Flavio Conceicao, he left Spain on Monday to fly to Seoul, where Brazil plays South Korea in one of 23 international matches scheduled Wednesday.

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Scolari Weighs Offer

Luiz Felipe Scolari, who coached Brazil to its 2002 World Cup triumph, said he will wait until the end of the month to decide which of several coaching offers to accept, including one to become Portugal's national team coach.

"I will have to weigh up if they are only important financially, or [fulfill] a dream that I have had for some years," Scolari told the Portuguese daily A Bola.

Scolari has long sought to coach in Europe, and accepting the Portugal position, while potentially less lucrative, would immediately put him back on a major stage because Portugal is host of the 2004 European Championship.

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Relegation Woes

Two of Brazil's most illustrious clubs, Palmeiras and Botafogo, have suffered the ignominy of being relegated to the second division after both teams endured woeful seasons in the Brazilian league.

For Palmeiras, the demotion is especially difficult to digest because the club was South American champion as recently as 1999 and Brazilian champion in 1993 and 1994.

"The team had several opportunities to avoid relegation, but proved unable to keep us up," Coach Levir Culpi said. "Now we are going to have to pay the price for our own incompetence."

Botafogo Coach Carlos Alberto Torres was dismayed but philosophical.

"This humiliation is much worse than losing a final, because you get over that the next day," he said. "It's sad, but Botafogo will bounce back."

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Russian Roulette

Lokomotiv Moscow and CSKA finished the Russian season tied atop the standings, each with 66 points from 30 matches.

The Russian Premier League decided Monday that a one-game playoff Thursday at a neutral venue, Moscow's Dynamo Stadium, will decide the title winner.

That decision angered CSKA and Russia national team Coach Valery Gazzayev, and with some reason.

"Why play another match?" he asked. "We have a better won-lost record than Lokomotiv and we also have a better goal difference, so it's clear to me which is the better team."

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