Bomb Threat Before World Cup Game
PARIS (AP) _ World Cup organizers received two bomb threats before today’s match between Bulgaria and Paraguay at Stade de las Mosson in Montpellier, but dismissed them as ``not serious.″
Eric Champel, a member of the organizing committee, said the two threatening phone calls were received about 2 1/2 hrs before the match.
``We briefly evacuated the press stands and brought in the sniffing dogs, but that’s our usual procedure before every game at the World Cup,″ he said, adding there were no security concerns for the match, which began on time.
Most of the evacuated reporters found out about the threats only after the all-clear had been given.
Meanwhile, a brewing ticket controversy led FIFA to begin investigations into improper sales by soccer officials in Cameroon and an unidentified South American country.
The president of the Cameroon soccer federation, Vincent Onana, was detained as he tried to leave his country with the national team. He was placed under investigation for embezzlement of public funds, accused of supplying an English agency with 3,000 tickets worth $660,000.
Michael Zen-Ruffinen, FIFA’s acting general secretary, said the world soccer governing body also was investigating whether a representative of ISL France _ a company with a minority stake from the ISL marketing giant that handles FIFA’s sponsors and TV contracts _ ``apparently sold tickets he did not have to individuals. It’s a rather serious issue.″
Also playing today were host France, against South Africa in Marseille, and Denmark, against Saudi Arabia in Lens.
A group of Japanese fans was furious that tickets to the nation’s first-ever World Cup games failed to materialize.
Five Japanese travel agencies reportedly decided to cancel World Cup tours because some 12,000 tickets haven’t turned up. A group of 76 fans already at the team’s training camp at Aix-en-Provence are waiting to find out if even that much-smaller number could be met.
``I’m trying to be optimistic,″ said Masami Tachi, a 34-year-old housewife from Tokyo. ``But if we don’t get tickets soon, we’re going to take the tour coordinator hostage. We will not kill him.″
Four years after his last World Cup penalty kick cost Italy the title, Roberto Baggio stepped up to the spot again Thursday.
In a shootout in Pasadena in 1994, Baggio fired over the crossbar, Italy lost the final and Brazil won a record fourth world championship.
This time Italy faced the dismay of losing its first game of World Cup 98.
Only six minutes remained and Baggio, who played only once on the national team in the last three years, ran forward again. He sent this ball into the corner of the net to salvage Italian pride in a 2-2 tie with Chile.
``Certainly I thought of four years ago, but then I told myself I was going to put the ball into the net this time,″ Baggio said after the game in Bordeaux. ``Luckily I did.″
Baggio’s penalty success gave Day 2 of the world soccer championship its first big moment of drama. It even eclipsed Tommy Boyd’s own goal to give Brazil a 2-1 victory over Scotland on Day 1.
The tie made it 11 goals in the first three World Cup games after Brazil’s victory over Scotland and the Norway-Morocco 2-2 draw on opening day. It became 13 in four when Cameroon and Austria tied 1-1 in Toulouse in another Group B game.
Pierre Njanko, making only his third appearance for the team, went on a 40-yard run through the Austrian defense and put the Africans ahead 13 minutes from the end. Anton Polster became Austria’s top World Cup scorer with 16 goals with an injury-time shot that tied it.
After four games, Brazil was the only team to win and Scotland the only team to lose.
Despite fears that FIFA’s directive to punish tackles from behind with expulsions would lead to a wave of red cards, there were none in the opening four games.
There were five yellows in the Italy-Chile game, but they didn’t detract from the drama.
Marcelo Salas connected twice for Chile, just before halftime and just after it, after a 10th-minute strike by Christian Vieri. Italy looked sunk before getting lucky.
Baggio even set up the penalty kick as his pass inside the box caught Chilean defender Ronald Fuentes on the arm.
``I did not try to stop the ball with my hand″ said a dismayed Fuentes. ``The ball came to me. I am very sad, because of the effort my teammates made. We deserved to win.″
But they would tie after Baggio put a low show into the corner of the net to the right of diving goalie Nelson Tapia.
``As expected the first World Cup match was difficult and we suffered throughout against a team which played very well today,″ Baggio said.