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Biennial Cup Idea Scrapped

October 20, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, FIFA's president, said in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday that he has abandoned his idea of staging the World Cup every two years instead of every four.

He told delegates attending the FIFA Extraordinary Congress that he had "put the idea into a safe and I have lost the combination."

The plan had been widely criticized.

The congress voted to extend Blatter's term in office by an additional year until 2007, thus causing the FIFA presidential election to no longer fall in the same year as the World Cup.

In another decision, delegates from FIFA's 204 member nations approved a change that would allow players with dual nationality who are under 21 to switch national teams, providing they have not played for either nation's full national team.

Meanwhile, Blatter said that the next edition of the controversial FIFA World Club Championship, a tournament that has been ridiculed as an unnecessary burden on players, would be played in either the United States or Asia in 2005, with Japan being the early favorite to stage the event.

Inter Fires Cuper

Inter Milan on Sunday fired Hector Cuper as coach, despite the fact that the former Argentine international had led the club to second- and third-place finishes in Italy and to the semifinals of the UEFA Cup and the European Champions League since being hired by Inter in 2001.

A recent run of four Italian Serie A games in a row without a victory, including a 3-1 loss to city rival AC Milan two weeks ago and a 2-2 tie with Brescia on Saturday, left the club in sixth place six games into the new season and cost Cuper, 47, his job.

In Italy, Cuper was unable to shake his reputation for falling at the last hurdle. He twice coached Valencia of Spain to the European Champions League final, only to lose both games. Before that, he coached Real Mallorca of Spain to the European Cup Winners' Cup final, but lost that game too.

"I don't have anything to say; no one has told me anything," Cuper told reporters.

He was replaced by Alberto Zaccheroni, 50, the former coach of Udinese, AC Milan and Lazio.

Real Profits

Real Madrid is contemplating a novel way to raise money -- by showing the team's training sessions on its in-house television station, Real Madrid TV.

Florentino Perez, the club's president, said the station expects to produce $7 million in revenue in the next year, adding that the figure might rise if training sessions featuring the likes of David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo were televised.

Real Madrid TV has 70,000 subscribers in Spain and is accessible in more than 20 countries.

MLS Thriller

Brian McBride scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Columbus Crew kept its Major League Soccer playoff hopes alive Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 victory over D.C. United in front of 14,368 at RFK Stadium in Washington.

McBride's second goal, in the 100th minute, was scored on a header of a pass from former Galaxy midfielder Alex Pineda Chacon. McBride also scored on a penalty kick in the 90th minute to give Columbus a 2-1 lead, but United's Mike Petke tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth minute of stoppage time, forcing sudden-death overtime.

The teams had traded first-half goals, with Brian West scoring for Columbus and Hristo Stoitchkov tying it on a penalty kick for D.C. United.

Columbus must win its final game of the season, against the Chicago Fire, and D.C. United must lose its final game, against the Kansas City Wizards, for the Crew to reach the playoffs at United's expense.

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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