Flat Earth: Brazil squad wins again on penalties

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THE DUST has finally settled after the unfriendly match between Brazil's World Cup- winning football team and the country's money-losing revenue service. And in true sporting fashion, the defeated side is putting on a brave face.

'At least we minimised our losses,' the federal tax secretary, Salvio Costa, said. The taxman collected a mere pounds 35,500 of an estimated pounds 600,000 in customs duties expected from the 17 tons of personal items brought home from the United States by the Brazil squad and its entourage.

The skirmish began when the team arrived home on 19 July with 13 tons more luggage than they took with them. Along with the World Cup, they brought back TV sets, video recorders, washing machines, microwave ovens, refrigerators, exercise machines, computers - and probably a kitchen sink.

The 93-member delegation was stopped at the airport in Rio by customs agents eager to collect the usual 130 per cent levy imposed on Brazilians bringing in more than pounds 650 in goods. Indignant players refused to pay and threatened to skip their victory parade.

Their baggage eventually was allowed free passage, but tax officials later obtained a court order allowing them to search the homes of the team, its staff and guests. Weeks after the delegation's arrival home, the outclassed inspectors could do little but accept each person's declaration, including a verbal one: that one Brazilian goal was 'worth much more than a refrigerator'.