Football: World Cup `98: Diary

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The Independent Online
THE `ALLER and Retour' Gallimard Official Guide to France 98 has struggled for accuracy in its section devoted to Scotland. As if naming the injured Gary McAllister as the Scots' star man were not bad enough, the guide also lists Scotland's `trainer' as Jock Brown, the Celtic general manager and brother of national coach Craig. Jock, ironically, is currently considering legal action over claims that he interferes in team affairs at Parkhead.

JAPAN, A nation often said to be obsessed with sex, has decided it has no place in the World Cup, imposing a ban on their players for the entire tournament... A leading Japanese magazine said the younger members of the party were passing around pornographic magazines to minimise the effects of the deprivation while the coach Takeshi Okada has set up a "relaxation room" equipped with video and computer games at the team's hotel.

THE BRITISH-themed sports bars in Paris and Toulouse, the Frog & Rosbif, is struggling to cope with demand from England supporters for their beer - Inseine, Parislytic and Dark de Triomphe are three varieties - and with a pint downed on average every 15 seconds they can't brew enough. Meanwhile, the spectre of empty restaurants as diners stay at home to watch the football has persuaded six top French chefs to offer free meals in Rouen.

WORLD CUP football is far less damaging to your health than attending a rugby match or a rock concert, says the French organising committee's head doctor, Nicolas Garodetzky. "We've had only a few matches but so far everything has gone smoothly with relatively few fights and surprisingly few cases of alcoholism," he said. "Compared to open air rock concerts, we've had very few problems." Even with the thousands of Scottish fans pouring into the Stade de France for the opening game with Brazil, very few people were drunk. "Only one serious case has been reported - it's much worse for big rugby matches," Garodetzky added.

THE NIGERIAN team have been ordered by their country's new leader, Abdulsalam Abubakar, to shine in France so their compatriots don't become even more depressed about the death of his predecessor, General Sani Abacha. "The hopes of a nation rest on your shoulders in this difficult time," he told them.

AUTOGRAPH HUNTERS successful in obtaining Jamaican signatures are receiving religious messages as well. "God is with you" and "Jesus loves you" are some of the Christian wishes being written by the squad. Coach Rene Simoes said: "It's important the message our team gives to the world - believe in your dreams and God will be with you."

SAUSAGE SALES in Denmark increased by 25-30 per cent and the demand for crisps, soft drinks and beer matched it as the nation prepared to watch their opening game with Saudi Arabia. In Bulgaria the priority heading the shopping lists is a television set. "In the last two to three weeks people are buying TV sets like bread during a crisis," said a salesman.

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