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Friday, June 19, 1998

FIFA, organizers complain

Associated Press Writer
PARIS (AP) -- The tide of red cards so many predicted washed
ashore at the World Cup. And they're not blaming El Nino,
they're blaming El Presidente.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and French organizing committee
chairman Michel Platini criticized referees for not being
tough enough, particularly on tackles from behind and
time-wasting. The refs took the words to heart and, on
Thursday, five red cards were issued in two games -- one
more than in the first eight days and 20 games of the

The home team's biggest star, Zinedine Zidane, was among
those kicked out.

``I think what they said was ridiculous,'' Danish defender
Marc Rieper said after Denmark's 1-1 tie with South Africa,
a match with three ejections and seven cautions. ``Referees
have been very good so far and it is a very stupid comment
that he has made. I don't know if he is trying to ruin the
tournament that he made himself, and kill the football

Two more ejections and four more yellows followed in
France's 4-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, a win that moved the
host nation into the second round and made the Saudis the
first team eliminated.

Today, FIFA said referees might have overreacted to
Blatter's comments.

``That is a conclusion that one could draw,'' FIFA spokesman
Keith Cooper said.

He said acting general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen and
outgoing president Joao Havelange would meet with the refs
to try to sort out the confusion.

``There is some room for improvement as to how the actions
are punished,'' Cooper said. ``The first days, there was too
much leniency. Yesterday (Thursday), the movement was in the
opposite direction.''

France's victory, which sparked street celebrations in and
around Paris, came with a price. Forward Christophe Dugarry
tore his right hamstring in the first half and is likely
gone for the rest of the tournament, and Zidane is suspended
for at least one game.

Nigeria looked to join France and Brazil in the second round
today, facing Bulgaria in a Group D match in Paris, where a
victory would guarantee it. Spain hoped to recover from its
opening 3-2 loss to the Nigerians against Paraguay in

The U.S. team isn't thinking about Sunday's politically
charged game with Iran in other terms.

``I don't look at it too much in the politics,'' Marcelo
Balboa said. ``It's another game. We have to play our game,
get our result in order for us to advance.''

President Clinton said Thursday he favors a genuine
reconciliation with Iran. Perhaps the game at Lyon could

``Before the game, we're going to shake hands, and
afterwards we're going to exchange shirts,'' Eric Wynalda
said. ``That should be a good example for the world.''
«FC»«MDBO»Denmark 1, South Africa 1

``I thought the referee was a bit harsh in his decisions,''
South African captain Lucas Radebe said. ``He made people
scared to even go out and tackle. I think he made a mess of
the game.''

Colombian referee John Jairo Toro tossed three players out
in Toulouse, the most controversial when he expelled Danish
defender Morten Wieghorst for bumping forward Benni McCarthy
in the back and knocking him down.

``The guy hardly even touched me,'' McCarthy said. ``The
referee went out of his way to give him a red card and I am
sure that was a very silly -- a stupid -- decision from the

Wieghorst entered the game in the 82nd and left in the 85th.

``It was my first foul. I'd been in the game two minutes,''
he said. ``I must say I thought he was going to put it back.
I tried to tell him he was pulling the wrong card by
mistake, but he was having none of it.''

Before Weighorst, Danish substitute Miklos Molnar left in
the 67th, two minutes before South African midfielder Alfred

The Danes got a goal when Allan Nielsen volleyed home a
cross from Brian Laudrup in the 13th minute. McCarthy
finished off a series of touches from John Moshoeu and Shaun
Bartlett in the 53rd for South Africa's first World Cup
goal. Quinton Fortune blasted a shot off the crossbar in the
first minute of second-half injury time.

France 4, Saudi Arabia 0

In Saint-Denis, the French capitalized on their man
advantage after Mohammed al-Khilaiwi was expelled in the
19th minute, getting goals from Thierry Henry and David
Trezeguet in the 68th.

But even after Zidane was sent off in the 70th for stepping
on Saudi captain Fuad Amin, the French added two more: a
second by Henry and a finale by Bizente Lizarazu.

``I didn't deserve this,'' Zidane said. ``I did not mean to
hurt the man. I just fell on him.''

Faustino Asprilla asked for leniency, too. The Colombian
striker said he was sorry for publicly criticizing coach
Hernan Dario Gomez. Asprilla was dismissed from the team by
Gomez, but his mea culpa may cause the coach to reconsider.

``But I don't know what the decision will be,'' Gomez said.
``The truth is, those are nice words by Faustino.''

The ticket scandal that continues to plague the Cup took
another odd twist.

French organizers said they had serious questions about the
reported theft of 15,000 World Cup tickets from the Paris
office of Prime Sport International, one of the tournament's
17 licensed ticket agencies.

Spokesman Bruno Travade said today that the committee was
still waiting after two requests for PSI to identify who had
purchased the tickets and give their match and seat numbers.

Travade also said that -- while PSI listed tickets for the
France-South Africa match among those stolen -- a check at
the Stade de France found the seats ``duly occupied by

Stewart dances to first lead at Open

AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Payne Stewart was the only one who
really felt like dancing at the U.S. Open.

The other eight players who managed to break par in the
first round Thursday were either too surprised to see their
names on the leaderboard or simply relieved to get off the
course before it caught up with them.

``Always be satisfied with making par,'' said Stewart, who
speaks from experience of having won this championship seven
years ago at Hazeltine.

On a day when The Olympic Club beat up so many others,
Stewart was doing a shimmy on the 17th green when a 45-foot
putt fell, the centerpiece of a masterful
birdie-birdie-birdie finish.

That gave him a 4-under-par 66 and a one-stroke lead over
Mark Carnevale. Another stroke back were Tom Lehman, Jose
Maria Olazabal and Bob Tway -- all past major championship
winners -- along with Joe Durant, the only player to reach
5-under during the day.

Lehman, who has had the lead going into the final round of
the last three U.S. Opens, birdied three of the last four
holes, and Olazabal holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th.

``I took advantage of some breaks out there,'' Stewart said.
``When we get them, you have to take advantage of them,
especially in a U.S. Open, because you don't get that

Stewart called his 4-3-3 finish ``unheard of'' on the
closing holes of Olympic, but that wasn't the only unusual

Amateur Paul Simson was 2-under at the turn until a
spectator ran off with his errant tee shot on the 10th hole.
Not realizing what had happened, Simson considered it lost
and played a second tee shot. He took triple bogey on his
way to a 43 on the back.

Jesper Parnevik, who was at 69 with John Daly and Jeff
Maggert, sensed that the pin placement on No. 18 was
different than what his yardage book showed, and he was
right. The USGA realized the pin was unfair and changed it
two hours into the round, although everyone played it the

And Casey Martin made history by becoming the first player
to ride a cart in the U.S. Open. It could have used a pair
of headlights, since Martin's bogey-bogey finish for a 74
came in near darkness.

``It was overwhelming, the support I got from the crowd out
there,'' he said. ``I have to admit, I was almost crying on
the first tee. I just had to get up there and hit it quick
before I thought about what was going on.''

Lehman was one of many who repeated a popular phrase in
majors -- they cannot be won on Thursday, only lost.

And several players who didn't beat Olympic didn't beat
themselves, either.

Colin Montgomerie never went over par in his round of 70,
where he was joined by Masters champion Mark O'Meara, Tom
Kite and happy-go-lucky amateur Matt Kuchar.

Those at 71 included Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson. Fred
Couples was at 72, and the group at 73 featured Tom Watson
and 58-year-old Jack Nicklaus.

For others, Olympic hit them before they knew what was

Tiger Woods was cruising along at 2-under, tied for the lead
in the early going, when he four-putted No. 9 for a double
bogey. Four more bogeys followed on the back and Woods wound
up at 74.

Steve Pate was also at 2-under with only three holes left
when he missed the next three fairways and finished at 72.

``That's the beauty of the U.S. Open,'' David Duval said
after four bogeys in the final eight holes led to a 75.
``You're never so happy as when you're done. There's no

Durant also took a beating, even if he felt like a winner.

Durant, who has made only six of 12 cuts on the PGA Tour
this year, birdied four of the first five holes and got to
5-under with a wedge into 1 foot on the 12th hole.

``The crowd started getting a little bigger and a lot more
cameras were out there following us,'' Durant said. ``I
started getting a little nervous.'' He made two bogeys and a
double bogey over the last five holes.

Carnevale also felt the nerves, but he managed to fight
through him. He was the only player to avoid a bogey in the
first round and was one of only five players to make birdie
on No. 17 -- a 468-yard, par 4 that is the toughest at
Olympic. He hit a 2-iron into 6 inches.

``Granted, this is only Thursday, but this is where all the
attention of the golf world is this week,'' Carnevale said.

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