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WORLD CUP KICKS OFF WEDNESDAY: ARE THE FRENCH READY?
Published June 8, 1998
With the World Cup set to begin on Wednesday, the event "is far from becoming a national obsession," according to Owen & Harverson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. This "seems to hold true even for sports fan," as Paris' sport paper, L'Equipe, has focused mainly on the French Open. The "subdued mood is partly attributable" to the striking Air France pilots, who have "severely disrupted" the national carrier's flight program. But Owen & Harverson write, "No doubt excitement will mount as more of the expected 500,000 foreign fans arrive" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/7). In DC, Swardson & Shipley write that the strike "is going to disrupt" the Cup, "even if it is resolved soon." Swardson & Shipley: "What was supposed to be a huge celebration of France's progress and place in the modern world has become yet another opportunity for foreigners, especially those struggling to get here, to ridicule this country for its backwardness" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/8). Saturday's PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER front page included Diane Pucin's report of a possible strike by railroad workers under the header, "Strikes Plague France's Big Event" (INQUIRER, 6/6). ANY OTHER PROBLEMS? In L.A., Helene Elliott wrote that other "ominous clouds" facing the event are the "potential for thuggery by ticketless fans and attacks by terrorists" (L.A. TIMES, 6/6). In Seattle, Elliot Almond wrote that Cup officials "are concerned about fan violence" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/7). But in Washington, William Gildea wrote that French officials "hope that somehow everyone will join together Wednesday to make the opening a success because the whole world will be watching" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/7). NOTES: NEWSWEEK has two Cup stories: A profile of the U.S. team and goalie Kasey Keller and a look at Brazilian star Ronaldo, whose "baby face and sweet smile" have made him a "worldwide heartthrob" (NEWSWEEK, 6/15 issue)...USA TODAY's Christopher Winner also profiles Ronaldo (USA TODAY, 6/8)....In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes that ESPN's "Outside the Lines" special "takes a dive" tomorrow when it focuses on the U.S. National Soccer Team's preparation for the World Cup: "[T]his installment of 'OTL' serves as little more than a promo for ABC/ESPN goods" (N.Y. POST, 6/8).