Football: Around the world - Police on alert as Iranians take to the ro ad in France

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IRAN this week became the first of the World Cup finalists to arrive in France for a tour of the country which will host the tournament.

The ians have embarked on a three-match tour against opponents from the French First Division. The aim is to help the players become used to playing in France; results are of secondary importance.

The first game of their trip, on Tuesday, resulted in a 1-0 loss to Guingamp. "The defence stayed back too much," Tomislav Ivic, 's Croatian coach, who was once in charge of Paris St- Germain, said. "You can't win if you don't take risks. But these players have talent and we still have three months in which to improve." The ians were due to play Nantes last night and finish with a match in Montpellier on Tuesday.

The presence of the ians has also provided some useful practice in surveillance measures for the crack French police force RAID (Research, Assistance, Intervention, Dissuasion). "For us it's a chance to hang around and test our mechanisms before the finals," their commander, Loic Janot, said.


GIORGIO CHINAGLIA, the former Italian international centre-forward who began his playing career with Swansea City, is the figurehead of a pounds 16m bid by an American company to buy the Budapest club, Ferencvaros.

Chinaglia, who went on to play for Lazio and New York Cosmos, will become the president of the club if the bid by Dicobe International Associates is successful. The offer includes a commitment to spend at least pounds 6m on players to help Ferencvaros qualify for the Champions' League.

The Hungarian club have also received investment proposals from both the Canadian-based International Management Group and from the British- based English National Investment Company, which also has controlling interests in Slavia Prague, AEK Athens and the Italian club, Vicenza.

The removal of Slavia and AEK from the Cup-Winners' Cup on Thursday means that Uefa, European football's ruling body, has avoided what would have been a very tricky problem. If the Czech and Greek sides had won their quarter-final ties, every semi-finalist apart from Chelsea would have been controlled by the same company.

United States

LAST weekend's opening fixture of the new Major League Soccer season was an uncomfortable experience for Jaime Moreno, the Bolivian international forward who has had two spells with Middlesbrough.

Moreno, who plays for Washington DC United and was the league's top scorer last year, was sent off after just 28 minutes of the encounter with Miami Fusion for a retaliatory foul on the Miami defender Cle Kooiman.

Moreno should have known better than to tangle with Kooiman. After the rugged US international centre-half had committed his first offence in the opening seconds of the game, the commentator employed by the television network ESPN gleefully announced: "Kooiman has committed more fouls than any other player in Major League Soccer history!"

Despite being short-staffed for over an hour, a Washington side including John Harkes and Roy Wegerle gained a 2-0 win over Miami, who are in their first MLS season and fielded the Colombian playmaker Carlos Valderrama.

Miami could not afford to play in the city's famous Orange Bowl stadium, so they stage their home games at Lockhart stadium in nearby Fort Lauderdale. They entertain the league's other newcomers, Chicago Fire, there tonight.


IN the sporting arena, if not elsewhere, the Vietnamese police do not exactly have an unblemished reputation.

The newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong reported yesterday that the football federation in Hanoi is seeking to suspend five coaches following allegations of match- fixing in last year's national championship. No fewer than three are from police teams, Hanoi, Haiphong and Ho Chi Minh City. The federation is also seeking a lifetime ban on the captains of the Hanoi police team and the Ho Chi Minh City Customs side.

Media reports have said at least 74 managers and players were involved in fixing matches in the 1997 season. All but one of the 12 teams in the league were implicated.