Football: Football's elite to open Sydney Games

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THE WORLD'S leading football players will be invited to Sydney next year to play in a ceremonial match to mark the official opening of the stadium that will host the 2000 Olympics.

Chris Chapman, the Stadium Australia chief executive, said that a match between the Socceroos and a World XI would be held on 12 June in front of an expected capacity crowd of 110,000.

Chapman said the match had been approved by Fifa, football's governing body. "The decision by Fifa is obviously fantastic news," Chapman said. "It provides us with a fairy tale opening."

The stadium will be finished in April but the organising committee for the Sydney Games has agreed to put back the official opening until June to allow for the completion of the major leagues in Europe. "Because of the timing, the best players in Europe will be free to play." Soccer Australia chairman Basil Scarscella said.