Football: Diary

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The Independent Online
BRIGHTON'S RACECOURSE executive were keen to fly their own flag for England yesterday, but perhaps it didn't signal an overwhelming show of confidence in Glenn Hoddle's team that the race title "Come On England World Cup 98" was pinned to the 2.45 selling stakes, the lowest-value race on the afternoon card. In the event, David came out on top of the six-furlong sprint, as he should have done with both Seaman and Batty on duty in Marseilles. He beat Lucky Red into second place in what proved an accurate summary of Tunisia's fortunes.

WHILE OUR "brave" boys go to war when the football starts, in other parts of the globe the World Cup brings warring men to a halt. In Lebanon, where civil war raged between 1975 and 1990, the militiamen were known to stop shooting during tournaments. In the streets of Beirut today, flags from the competing nations cover campaign posters promoting the municipal elections. Outside Tony Zoghbi's house the Brazilian colours flutter proudly. "I did it to spite my next-door neighbour who's a German fanatic," he said.

GENEROUS BRITISH Aerospace bosses spent pounds 5,000 on two giant screens to ensure their employees could watch England's first game, turning a hangar at their Bristol factory into a temporary cinema for the 500-strong workforce. The BAe managing director, Ray Wilson, said: "It seemed a natural thing to do. The World Cup is a big event. People here are very enthusiastic about the work they do and are very dedicated."

WHILE IT was no surprise that most French newspapers had sport on their front pages over the weekend, few visitors to the country would have guessed the subject matter. Reaction to France's promising start against South Africa? English hooligans on the rampage in Marseilles? Argentina and Croatia opening their campaigns with victories? No, the big sporting story was the death of Eric Tabarly, the legendary French yachtsman who died after being swept overboard off the Welsh coast on Saturday. The story even filled the first three pages of L'Equipe, the national sports daily, which is breaking tradition by publishing on Sundays during the World Cup.

A GROUP of 10 Scottish fans knew just where to go to satisfy their hunger pangs while awaiting their team's second game against Norway in Bordeaux this afternoon - all the way to a restaurant in Bournemouth. The fans spent pounds 800 on a private jet to fly out a pounds 600 meal and a case of Indian lager from their favourite restaurant, The Eye Of The Tiger, in the South Coast resort. Chef Shokat Ali will fly today to Bordeaux with the meal, which includes smoked salmon samosas, chicken tikka, the curious-sounding goat with saffron marinated in Tia Maria, and hot vindaloo.

IT'S AN easy life if you can get it - in Cameroon the central prison in Yaounde has suspended hard labour and laid on eight television sets so that inmates can follow the competition and the progress of the Indomitable Lions. "They may be in prison but they are also human beings," the prison administrator, Pong Moni, said. One particularly interested viewer is Vincent Onana, the president of Cameroon's football federation, who is awaiting trial in connection with the unlawful sale of World Cup tickets.

SOUTH KOREA'S game with Mexico drew the highest number of television viewers for any event in the country's history. More than 79 per cent of television-owning households in a nation of 45 million were glued to their small screens in the early hours of Sunday morning.

THERE ARE three World Cups, but only one is the genuine article. The real one belongs to Fifa, is made of solid gold and is loaned to the winners for three and a half years before Fifa display it in the host country in the run-up to the next tournament. Winners receive a gold-plated replica, and another version is available for commercial presentations.

GERMAN TAXPAYERS in the northern state of Lower Saxony are furious after their local government agreed to accept a new subject for a professional training workshop which consists of watching the World Cup on television. A spokesman for the regional association of taxpayers called the idea "absurd".