Sport: Headlines You Thought You Would Never Read In 1998

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Striker who keeps a carrot in his shorts

CARROTS WERE once reputed to improve a person's ability to see in the dark. However, it takes more than sharp eyesight to penetrate the dim depths of the intellect that conjured up the latest in a long line of eccentric, not to say ludicrous, goal celebrations that have begun to illuminate Brazilian club football.

One little number, acted out by Edmilson, involved the Atletico Mineiro striker pulling a carrot from his shorts after scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 victory over America and ostentatiously eating it in front of rival supporters.

So was Edmilson showing off the benefits of healthy eating for sportsmen? No, he was making fun of the America fans, whose team are known as the Rabbits.

Whatever the carrot act did for Edmilson's digestive system, it certainly did not go down well with America. One player, Dinho, was sent off for a vicious tackle on Edmilson during the second half in an apparent reprisal.

"I didn't want to offend anyone with the joke," Edmilson said, explaining that he kept the carrot in his shorts until scoring in the 20th minute. "Did I find it revolting to eat it? Of course not. I don't find my own body revolting."

September

Brazilian tackle

causes a stir

THE BRAZILIAN footballer, Vampeta, sparked a controversy by agreeing to appear naked in a gay publication, G Magazine. "I am not gay, I'm doing it for the money," Vampeta - real name Marcos Andre Batista Santos - said, clearly not looking for fan mail. Vampeta's stunt, for which he will be paid pounds 60,000, has not gone down well with everyone.

Wanderley Luxemburgo, the Brazilian national coach and also coach at Vampeta's club side, Corinthians, had pleaded with his player not to pose until the end of the season, but Vampeta took the money and asked only that publication be delayed until the New Year.

December

Smoking is OK says coach

JAVIER CLEMENTE, Spain's World Cup coach, said in the aftermath of Paul Gascoigne's non-inclusion in the England World Cup squad that smoking and drinking could be compatible with playing football. "Smoking, in moderation, yes. And drinking in moderation too," he said.

Moderation and social responsibility were the key, he said, and added that the fact that Gascoigne and his England colleague Teddy Sheringham had been seen smoking need not necessarily mean that they were unable to play football at the highest level.

"There's no problem, and besides Gascoigne and Sheringham are remarkable professionals on the field," he said. As for Spain's poor subsequent performance at France 98, it can't have been the fags and booze, can it?

June

Bookmaker pays out twice

FRED DONE, a Manchester United-supporting bookmaker, was so pleased with his side's big lead in the Premiership that two months before the season finished he paid all the punters who had backed the Red Devils for the title at his 115 shops in the north and Wales.

Such generosity did not, at the time, seem misplaced as United were runaway leaders and Done's pay-out of around pounds 50,000 was all good publicity, thank you very much.

Then came Arsenal's late surge for the title, and Done, facing potential liabilities of pounds 200,000 if the Gunners won, put a brave face on events. "I'm sure Fergie's not waving any white flags yet and while there's games still to be played there's still hope," he said. Arsene Wenger's side ended that. Speculating on how events would change his life, Done said: "I'm going on holiday to Butlin's rather than the Bahamas." March

Boxer floored by pregnancy

BOXERS PULLING out of fights due to injury or illness is hardly a major surprise. One Mexican fighter, however, withdrew from her bout because she was pregnant.

After several tests confirmed that Maria de las Nieves Garcia, 22, was with child, she was pulled from her bout against Christy Martin on the undercard of what would have been the Evander Holyfield-Henry Akinwande heavyweight title fight (which itself was called off because of Akinwande's illness). Nieves Garcia was 21 weeks pregnant. "She had no idea she was pregnant," said Bobby Goodman, Madison Square Garden's director of boxing.

"She seemed to be dejected that she was not fighting," Goodman said, adding in response to a question: "No, she didn't appear to be gushing that she was pregnant."

Nieves Garcia was scheduled to earn pounds 9,500 to fight Martin, the World Boxing Council's women's lightweight champion. June

Wilson `betrayed'

by O'Sullevan

JULIAN WILSON, one of the BBC's most mild-mannered and respected sports correspondents, spoke publicly for the first time of the revelation in his autobiography that he "felt betrayed" by Peter O'Sullevan, his colleague for decades, and a man seemingly untouched by even the tiniest hint of nastiness.

Wilson said the falling-out began over when O'Sullevan would retire. Wilson claims he turned down the job of commentating for ITV in 1981 because O'Sullevan had told him he intended to retire at the age of 65 in 1983. However, O'Sullevan subsequently informed Wilson that this "retirement" would be from journalism, not commentating.

"I was quite shattered, but the ITV job had gone," Wilson wrote. "I felt betrayed."

Asked for his reaction , O'Sullevan responded: "I haven't read the book so I am not in a position to comment. I hope the book does well, that's all." September

Marathon man

runs on alcohol

A VINTAGE performance was expected from Portugal's Antonio Pinto as he sought to defend his London Marathon title.

As befits a man who has his own vineyard, Pinto admitted to being partial to a glass or two of wine. Well, not just a glass, but a bottle or more. Four bottles, to be precise, each week. "Sometimes more than four," he said before running this year.

Asked by a Portuguese journalist if he also upheld the national tradition of a little snifter of cognac in the morning, he replied once again in the affirmative.

Wine, Pinto said, was full of vitamins, and his drinking was a natural complement to eating the kind of meals he enjoyed back home.

In the race in London, Pinto finished third, behind Spain's Abel Anton and Morocco's Abdelkader El Mouaziz. A sign of the wines, perhaps? April

When goalposts

were moved

BEFORE THE second leg of the European Cup-Winners' Cup tie against Mallorca, Hearts' officials noticed the goalposts were uneven due to a slope on the pitch.

The base of one post was 10cm lower than the other a few yards away. A verbal complaint was made to a Uefa delegate and the match went ahead. "We only agreed to play because of our supporters and the security issue," Chris Robinson, Hearts' chief executive, said. "The goalposts have quite literally been moved."

Hearts drew 1-1 on the night and lost on aggregate, but still felt they would win through on principle. Unfortunately, they did not, their case being dismissed on a technicality - because the original complaint had not been made in writing. Jim Jefferies, Hearts' manager, said: "I believe Chris has said that if the protest had been written on the back of a fag packet then it would have been OK." October

`Women must

flash more flesh'

WOMEN'S TEAMS competing in the Volleyball World Championships in Tokuyama have been told that in the interests of the sport they must expose more flesh. The naked truth is that beach volleyball, largely performed in states of near-undress by part-time models, has cast its dowdier relative in an unfavourable light, and the authorities have introduced measures to make the six-a-side version more appealing to spectators.

Brightly coloured balls are among the innovations, but the most controversial of the new ideas is the stipulation that the women must wear shorts only half as long as the men. The shorter shorts should be "tight in waist and length" and "cut in an upward angle towards the top of the leg". The new rules also "encourage", without ordering, women to wear a one-piece swimsuit-style outfit rather than shorts and top.

Not surprisingly, this brave semi-nude new world met with little approval from the teams. "Soon only models will be allowed on the volleyball court," one South American player complained.

November

Hole-in-one

secures car

A NEWSPAPER'S golf correspondent had to consider whether to turn professional in order to be able to accept a prize of a pounds 189,000 Lamborghini for sinking a hole-in-one.

Derek Lawrenson, of the Sunday Telegraph, won the car for his effort at a charity golf day featuring the England World Cup football squad at Mill Ride, Ascot. Lawrenson, a left-hander with a handicap of eight, is a Liverpool supporter and achieved his feat in the company of Paul Ince and Steve McManaman.

"Now I have to decide whether to turn down the prize or turn professional," he said, acknowledging the rules that say amateurs cannot accept more than pounds 200 in prizes per hole and professionals are unable to compete in amateur tournaments. Lawrenson gave the matter a few seconds thought before accepting the supercar. He has since sold the motor, however, for a reported pounds 100,000 after discovering the insurance would have cost him pounds 3,000 a year.

May

Car secures hole-in-one

IT WAS just a normal day for Nancy Bachand. Trundling along a Massachusetts highway at a steady 30mph in her Toyota, she was minding her own business until Todd Obuchowski entered her life, or rather his golf ball did.

Obuchowski, a 34-year-old sheet metal worker, was enjoying a round at Haydenville's Beaver Brook course when he hit a wayward tee shot at the 116-yard, par-three fourth hole. The ball shot over the green and on to the road, where it ricocheted off the passenger side of Bachand's car and rolled into the cup for a hole-in-one.

"I didn't know for sure until all these guys started shouting," Obuchowski said. The damage to the car worked out at pounds 90.

May

Nick Harris

And the headlines you did not see....

Schumacher confesses his `deep love' for Coulthard

Tony McCoy: `OK, so I slap my horses a bit. They love it'

Alcock: `Di Canio was only tickling'

Glenn Hoddle: `I was wrong'

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