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July 4, 1996

HIGASHI-HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) _ Shoichi Kuwabara shot a 7-under-par 65 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the Yonex Open Hiroshima tournament.

Kuwabara, winless in five years as a pro, had four birdies on the front nine and three on the back in a bogey-free round over the 6,950-yard Hiroshima Country Club course.

Yoshinori Kaneko, a three-time winner this season, shared second place at 67 with Hideki Kase, Seiki Okuda, Hirofumi Miyase, Hideyuki Sato and Toru Taniguchi.

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Maas, Ducey Star in Japan

TOKYO (AP) _ Former major leaguer Kevin Maas had a two-run double in the fifth inning as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Chunichi Dragons 5-2 Thursday.

Chunichi starter Masahiro Yamamoto matched a Japanese record with three wild pitches in the fifth.

Rob Ducey, formerly with the Texas Rangers, hit a tiebreaking homer in the fifth inning as the Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Kintetsu Buffaloes 4-1.

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Adidas Buys Troubled Plagued Soccer Team

MARSEILLE, France (AP) _ The Olympic Marseille soccer club, plagued by one of France’s biggest sports scandals, is being purchased by Adidas.

The sporting goods company will become sole owner of the club, Marseille Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin said Thursday. He did not give a purchase price for what was once France’s most popular team and one of the strongest in Europe.

Adidas won out over the French discount retail group Tati and the American sports management firm IMG-McCormack.

Olympic Marseille was involved in a match-throwing scandal in 1994. Several Marseille members helped bribe a rival club to go easy on the team prior to a European championship match.

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U.S. Improving In Rugby, American Manager Says

LEVIN, New Zealand (AP) _ The United States could become an international force in rugby, according to the manager of a U.S. team that is touring New Zealand.

Rex Norris, manager of the secondary schools team, said the competition in New Zealand will make the U.S. players better.

``Our skills are improving all the time but we don’t have the top level experience,″ he said. ``This is a chance to see another speed of the game.″

Norris said there are 120 high school teams in the United States, but the sport has a low profile and receives little television coverage.

``People don’t understand it and it has a rough reputation,″ he said. ``They don’t know about the positive aspects like the camaraderie. Hopefully increased publicity will change that.″

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Asia, Africa, Oceania Gain More Representation Among Rulers

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, expanded its executive committee Thursday by giving more seats to Asia, Africa and Oceania.

The move represents a victory for FIFA president Joao Havelange and a setback for Lennart Johansson, head of the European soccer association (UEFA), which will now have less clout on the executive committee.

Havelange and Johansson have come into conflict several times in the past two years. Despite opposition from Havelange, UEFA forced a FIFA rule change last month that will allow South Korea and Japan to co-host the 2002 World Cup.

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