No sleep in search for World Cup theme tune

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THE search has begun for a theme song for next year's football World Cup that will sell as many records as Luciano Pavarotti's 'Nessun Dorma' did three years ago.

PolyGram Television International announced yesterday that it had secured the peripheral entertainment and promotion rights to the cup - to be held in the United States next June and July - and that theme music was being sought.

This will be the first time the World Cup has had an official tune. In 1990 'Nessun Dorma' happened to be chosen by the BBC to introduce its live coverage from Italy - and on the strength of that exposure it became the first piece of classical music to head the pop charts.

'That made everyone realise the commercial possibilities,' said Stewart Till, international president of PolyGram Films and Entertainment. 'Our Three Tenors (with Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo) sold 10 million copies world-wide.'

Artists who record for PolyGram's labels have already been approached to see if they can come up with a potential hit. 'We've asked about ten of them and probably six will come up with something, then we'll decide between them,' said David Rozalla, managing director of PolyGram Video International.

'If we don't think any of them will work we may go for an old song or a classic, but we'd prefer something new.' Among PolyGram's eligible artists are Elton John (former chairman of Watford FC), Dire Straits, U2 and Pavarotti himself.

Other rights acquired by PolyGram are for the draw in Las Vegas in December, which will be built into a variety spectacular; live concerts in Los Angeles on the eve of the contest and in Chicago in the middle of it; and for videos of the matches themselves, the first to be released two weeks after the final on 17 July.

The profitability of the deal will depend on who reaches the final. 'There won't be much in it for us if it's Uruguay versus Lithuania,' Mr Till said.

Mr Rozalla added: 'We've worked out our numbers on the assumption that England won't qualify for the finals. The best result for us would be a win for a country with a lot of video players. I don't suppose Japan has much chance but Italy would be really good - they're all crazy about football.' So don't rule out Pavarotti for the theme song.