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Soccer Tour Gets Started Amid Unfulfilled Promises

TIMES STAFF WRITER

World Cup officials on Thursday launched the much-publicized Legacy Tour ’94 in ceremonies held next to a pockmarked and muddy field at the Nickerson Gardens housing project in Watts.

World Cup chairman Alan Rothenberg presided over the unveiling of a small “Skills Court"--a fenced-in area covered with artificial turf topped with sand. The unkempt field adjacent to the festivities was supposed to have been the site of the World Cup’s first Inner-City Soccer Program.

That field was the scene of another World Cup press conference, held on Nov. 24, 1992. At that time Rothenberg announced, along with officials of Rebuild LA, that the field would be reseeded and refurbished and provided with lights. Officials said the work was scheduled to begin immediately.

Fifteen months later, the field remains unimproved. Rothenberg said Thursday that it would be upgraded, some time after April 22, when the Legacy Tour officially begins.

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“It’s coming,” Rothenberg said of the work. “The field is played on so much, it’s tough to get started.”

The ambitious Inner-City Soccer Program had promised to improve soccer facilities, supply tickets to national-team games and first-round World Cup matches, conduct clinics with national team players in “neglected areas of Los Angeles,” and conduct training sessions at the U.S. soccer training facility at Mission Viejo.

How many of these goals have been reached is unclear.

World Cup officials have made much of their effort to get urban children interested in soccer, a sport with few roots in the black community. The Legacy Tour is a national program designed to leave a “legacy” of soccer around the country. Some cities will receive the small courts and others will have existing soccer fields upgraded.


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