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World Cup Soccer Notebook

June 26, 1998

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ A 24-year-old man committed suicide after losing a bet on the Germany-Yugoslavia World Cup match.

Bui Van Dang was found dead after hanging himself at the office of the people’s committee of Quyet Thang precinct in the central highlands province of Kon Tum, police said Friday.

Dang had lost his Honda Dream motorcycle on the Sunday match between Germany and Yugoslavia, which ended in a 2-2 tie. His family paid to get the motorbike back, but he killed himself after he was cursed by relatives, according to police.

Vietnam has become obsessed with the World Cup, even though the country never has qualified for the sport’s biggest event. All matches are shown on state television, and streets are virtually deserted when they are aired.

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KEEPING QUIET ABOUT THEIR CALLS: About the only people not talking about the referees at the the World Cup are the referees themselves. They are strictly forbidden to give interviews about matches and FIFA said Friday that would not change despite several hotly debated calls in the tournament.

Federation spokesman Keith Cooper also said there were no plans to have referees issue brief statements regarding controversial decisions, as is done by umpires and refs in baseball, the NFL and the NBA.

``We don’t think they have to explain their decisions,″ Cooper said. ``It’s there and it’s gone. How do you determine the decisions that have to be explained and those that don’t? The referees take the decisions. We stand by the referees.″

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AND MAY DUNGA OBTAIN TOTAL CONSCIOUSNESS: Underneath the saffron-colored robe of your average Thai Buddhist monk beats the heart of a Brazilian soccer fan.

A survey of 937 monks found 47 percent were rooting for Brazil to win the World Cup. England was the second choice with 29 percent, and Italy was third with 11 percent.

More than half the monks surveyed in the Dusit Poll, conducted by the Bangkok-based Rajaphat Institute teachers colleges, admitted they should not follow the matches because they were inconsistent with religious discipline.

But 42 percent said that they should follow the games to keep up-to-date and relieve stress.

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NOT ON A BET: With his bright red hair, defender Javier Margas of Chile will certainly stand out in Saturday’s second-round match against Brazil.

Margas dyed his hair fire-engine red Thursday as a payoff to a friendly wager.

``I made a bet that if we got past the first round I would dye my hair red,″ Margas said. ``If we beat Brazil, I’ll do it again, but with another color.″

Margas shouldn’t be running out to get the dye just yet. Brazil leads the series 38-6-12.

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1,700 AND COUNTING: The last goal against the United States was the 1,700th in World Cup history.

Slobodan Komljenovic’s goal for Yugoslavia in the fourth minute of Thursday night’s match also was the 118th goal of the tournament.

An own-goal by South Africa’s Pierre Issa against France on June 12 was the 1,600th in tournament history.

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POSH PASS: The crowd rooting for England against Colombia on Friday night in Lens may have been large, but it definitely lacked Spice.

Victoria Adams, the Spice Girls’ very own Posh Spice, was in the midst of a U.S. tour with the pop-music group and unable to cheer in person for her boyfriend, England’s David Beckham.

A large group of players’ wives and girlfriends traveled from England for the game.

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