Football around the world

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The Independent Online
Japan/South Korea

It may be six years away, but the 2002 World Cup already seems like it might need the services of a United Nations' peace-keeping mission. Back in May, Fifa, world football's governing body, took the unprecedented decision to award the finals jointly to both countries - and since then the arguments have hardly stopped.

"I must say that the countries are not only not coming closer, it's quite the opposite," Sepp Blatter, the Fifa general secretary, said. "They are moving further apart. This is not the marriage we want. It has been difficult enough to arrange even a date and venue for a meeting between the representatives of the two countries, who may not be the best of friends."

All sides are due to meet at Fifa's headquarters in Zurich on 6 November, but Blatter is not expecting an easy ride. "They cannot even agree on the shape of the tournament," he said. However, the South Koreans deny that the tournament is already a chaos zone.

"I think it is very strange that anyone should be suggesting that there have been difficulties in getting us to co-operate," Chung Mong-joon, the president of South Korea's football federation, said. Blatter's comments were "not in anybody's interests... nobody can stop co-hosting - or prevent a magnificent first World Cup for Asia." A promise to remember...


Tony Cascarino may be a hero in the Republic of Ireland, after his two World Cup goals against Macedonia last week, but it seems he is no longer a favourite with his French club. There is trouble in the camp at Marseilles, where last weekend's 1-0 home defeat to lowly Caen led to fans clashing with police. The players have criticised the club and each other in the media - much to Cascarino's dismay.

"I don't understand why I was taken off at half-time [against Caen]. I finished as top scorer last year, I score with my national team and I'm refused a chance at Marseilles," he said. "I've never known such a situation with players criticising their own team-mates in the newspapers."

The club's sporting director, Marcel Dib, added: "I was ashamed. I saw players who did not deserve to wear our jersey."