Football Around the World: Vialli faces drugs prosecutor

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The Independent Online
Italy

GIANLUCA VIALLI, the Chelsea player-manager, testified yesterday before prosecutors in Turin probing allegations of drug-taking in Serie A, but emerged tight-lipped from his hearing.

"It went really well, but I can't say anything," Vialli said, before climbing into a car and speeding off. Magistrates are investigating allegations of doping after the Roma coach, Zdenek Zeman, alleged that drug taking was rife in the Italian League.

Zeman, a Czech who has coached in for 17 years, named Vialli and the Juventus striker, Alessandro Del Piero, in connection with his suspicions - but did not accuse them directly.

Vialli plans to sue Zeman, whom he has branded a "terrorist bent on a witchhunt", over his allegations that he and Del Piero gained muscle mass surprisingly quickly. "If someone has made a mistake then they must pay for it, but it will not be me," the former Juventus captain said last week.

The black cloud of doping allegations is hanging over Italian football as three separate inquiries are underway.

In Turin, prosecutors are looking into allegations raised by Zeman to see whether any charges of trading or supplying drugs harmful to health should be brought. Del Piero has already been questioned.

In Rome, the Italian Olympic Committee, which regulates sport in , is questioning a string of club officials, national squad officials, doctors and players. In Bologna, magistrates are probing relations between a pharmacy and football federation officials in Rome. No charges have been brought in any of the inquiries.

Brazil

THE NAME of Vanderley Luxemburgo may have meant little in Europe until last week, when the 46-year-old was named as the new coach of Brazil's national team, but the appointment has been a popular one at home.

Luxemburgo is seen as the man most capable of restoring exuberance, which many felt has been lost in the last three World Cups, back to the Brazilian team. He has a reputation for allowing naturally gifted players to show their talents, rather than burdening them with tacticial restrictions.

Luxemburgo has built several memorable teams in his career, none more so than the Palmeiras side which scored 102 goals in 30 games on their way to winning the Sao Paulo state championship two years ago. Players such as Rivaldo, now with Barcelona in Spain, the Corinthians striker Marcelinho Carioca and the volatile Edmundo have all produced their best under Luxemburgo.

The new coach has made it clear that he will allow the natural talent of the Brazilian players to flourish. "You have to base the team on the characteristics of the Brazilian athlete, which are his talent and his quality," he said.

Players who were rarely used under the former coach, Mario Zagallo, such as Marcelinho Carioca, who has scored seven goals his last four games for Corinthians but has been capped only once, and Edmundo, who was restricted to brief appearances as a substitute in the World Cup, can be expected to earn more chances under Luxemburgo.

One player who may not be so happy with the identity of Zagallo's replacement, however, is Romario, who effectively forced Luxemburgo to quit Flamengo three years ago.

Luxemburgo left the Rio de Janeiro club in disgust after attempts to discipline the wayward striker for missing training were thwarted by club directors. However, Romario, dropped on the eve of this year's World Cup because of injury, put a brave face on the appointment of his old foe.

"For me, it is excellent. If I am in good form, scoring goals and helping Flamengo win, I will return to the national team," said the 32-year-old, who claims he still has several years to give for Brazil.

Luxemburgo refused to discuss Romario's future. "At the moment, the possibility of picking Romario is just a hypothesis and not a reality," he said.

After an unremarkable playing career as a full-back, spent mainly at Flamengo and Internacional, Luxemburgo made his name as a coach by leading Bragantino, a minor provincial side, into the First Division of the Sao Paulo state championship for the first time in 1989. His team of upstarts won the title the following year, and he went on to enjoy mostly successful spells with Flamengo, Palmeiras, Santos and, currently, Corinthians.

With his various clubs, Luxemburgo has won three state and two national championships. Now, though, he has put his reputation on the line by taking on one of the most demanding jobs in the game.

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