SBD/8/Events Attractions

WORLD CUP KICKS OFF WEDNESDAY: ARE THE FRENCH READY?

          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).

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