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JUST ONE DRINK FROM YOUR LOVING CUP: FRANCE'S FINAL FOUR

          "After three weeks of scoreless ties, yellow cards,
     flag waving, aimless running, several fights, two shootouts,
     one fatal stabbing, mangled midfielders, unchecked beer
     drinking, national disgraces and way too much Brent
     Musberger, World Cup soccer has reached its final four,"
     according to Robin Miller of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS. 
     Miller: "Yet for all its worldwide interest and hours of
     television time, soccer escapes many of us" (STAR-NEWS,
     7/5).  In Toronto, Stephen Brunt adds that "less than a   
     month after it began with high hopes," the '98 World Cup
     "seems to be heading toward an entirely satisfying
     conclusion."  Brunt added, "All those intimations of
     disaster that surrounded the tournament's opening have
     pretty much come to naught," and "hooliganism ceased to be
     an issue precisely at the moment England was eliminated"
     from the tournament (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 7/7).  
          ON THE OTHER HAND: BUSINESS WEEK's William Echikson
     writes that France's "month-long soccer fiesta has turned
     into a fiasco, in large part" due to a shortage of tickets. 
     Echikson: "The result was an unnecessarily vicious black
     market.  If tickets had been sold in a more transparent,
     evenhanded fashion, even some of the regrettable violence
     ... might have been avoided."  Echikson adds that FIFA got
     24% of the tickets to give to national soccer associations,
     but critics say "many of these seats ended up on the black
     market" (BUSINESS WEEK, 7/13 issue). Shulman, Ellison &
     Hughes of NEWSWEEK report that France "has become a scalper
     bazaar," as the law of supply-and-demand has transformed the
     country "into an open-air ticket market, with prices for the
     July 12 final hitting $4,000" (NEWSWEEK, 7/13 issue).

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