Germans snap up Dundee

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The South African-born striker Sean Dundee has been granted German citizenship, clearing the way for him to play for the national side.

Dundee, who was also courted by the Republic of Ireland when it was learned his grandparents were Irish, plays for the German club Karlsruhe and is the Bundesliga's top scorer this season with 13 goals.

He applied for citizenship using a special fast-track method reserved for cases of "public interest," with the German Federation supporting his move.

The National coach Berti Vogts has expressed a strong interest in the 23-year-old Dundee, nicknamed "Crocodile", who has lived in Germany for four years; but his decision to apply for German citizenship sparked outrage in his native country where some politicians accused him of turning his back on South Africa - who eventually abandoned efforts to persuade him to join their World Cup squad.

The German Interior Ministry had to agree to the decision to grant him citizenship, even though rules normally specify 10 years' residence, as he fulfilled minimum conditions for naturalisation of top sports perormers, who were accepted as exceptional cases a year ago.

The Romanian captain Gheorghe Hagi will quit the national side unless the Romanian Football Federation's press officer is dismissed. Hagi, who plays for the Turkish side Galatasaray, said the federation spokesman, Sorin Satmari, had fabricated an interview with him published in the popular Bucharest daily Ziua at the weekend.

"I am not going to turn up for the national team because Satmari published an interview which never took place," Hagi said. "Everything he had me saying was made up."

Ziua quoted Hagi as saying his former club Steaua Bucharest, who have been national champions for four successive seasons and lead the way again this term, were badly managed and were driving top players out of the country by paying poor salaries.

A car dealer in the United Arab Emirates has bought all the tickets for the semi-finals and final of the Asian Cup to give them away to the public at their showrooms in the country. The car dealers paid one million UAE dirhams (pounds 175,000) for them.