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African teams can improve, Pele says

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2002


YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Pele saluted Senegal for reaching the quarterfinal but said he believes African teams badly need better internal organization to come up with a World Cup winner.

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Pele saluted Senegal for reaching the quarterfinal but said he believes African teams badly need better internal organization to come up with a World Cup winner.

Cameroon, Nigeria and now Senegal have flirted with success. But Pele said they will always be held back by weaknesses at the domestic level.

"Senegal was one of the surprises of the World Cup but showed it has a bright future," he said. "But one of the problems with Africa is the same as South America with most of the stars of Brazil and Argentina playing for clubs in Europe.

"The difference with Africa is that local tournaments are not being prepared very well. They don't have strong leagues, and that's where you prepare the good players."

NO PARTY: German officials scrapped plans for an outdoor party for about 2,000 German fans in Yokohama because they haven't received permission from local authorities.

The federation said it tried for the go-ahead for a party before the final, but local officials refused it.

As compensation, the federation will organize a fan party before the Oct.11 European Championship qualifying match against the Faeroe Islands in Hanover, Germany.

JUST MISSED: Nils Eie of Oslo, Norway, missed winning $1-million Saturday by inches.

The engineer, 25, beat 15 other finalists for the chance to take home the big prize by kicking a ball through a 30-inch target from 12 yards away.

He barely missed.

Eie, who was coached by former Dutch captain Ruud Gullit, won a $10,000 consolation prize.

"Mr. Eie put a good foot on the ball, but it just didn't have enough to go in the goal," Gullit said.

"I know from experience how difficult it is to convert such a kick under so much pressure and when there is so much at stake."

BIG AUDIENCE: With 1.68-billion hits before the final, the official tournament Web site is the most popular sports event site in Internet history.

Yahoo's FIFAworldcup.com is expected to surpass 2-billion hits by the end of the final.

Of the viewings, 51.6 percent were in English, followed by Japanese with 11.0 percent, German 10.4 percent, Korean 8.8 percent, French 6 percent, Spanish 5.3 percent, and Chinese 3.9 percent.

FIFA credits the popularity of the site to the time difference and the fact this was the first World Cup with such substantial Internet capabilities.

JAMAICAN DEATH: Theodore Whitmore, a member of Jamaica's national team, was ordered released on bail a day after being charged with manslaughter for the death of a teammate in a car crash.

Whitmore denied driving the car at the time of the January 2001 crash, which left Steve Malcolm dead and Whitmore and another passenger hospitalized.

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