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Dissident Faults World Cup Balls

June 11, 1998

MACAU (AP) _ An exiled dissident claimed Wednesday that Chinese prisoners made some of the soccer balls being used in World Cup matches.

Bao Ge, 34, who served three years in a labor camp in Shanghai, said he was among the Chinese prisoners forced to ``work at least 15 hours a day″ making the Adidas soccer balls.

Some of the balls were marked ``France 98 FIFA World Cup, Official Championship Ball,″ he said at a news conference.

A spokesman for Adidas, the official supplier of World Cup balls, denied the allegations, saying the prisoners probably were making souvenir balls for other companies, not Adidas balls for World Cup matches.

Peter Csanadi, Adidas’ director of global public relations, said the official design ``wasn’t even finalized″ when Bao was in prison, and the match balls were manufactured only in Morocco.

About 20 other companies were licensed to use the World Cup logo on souvenir balls, he said.

Bao has been in exile in the United States since November, shortly after Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s U.S. visit.

Bao said he and other Chinese dissidents in exile will sue Adidas for compensation for their work.

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