SOCCER / JULIE CART : Balboa Likely to Join Leading Club in Greece


U.S. sweeper Marcelo Balboa is expected to join Olympiakos of the Greek First Division this week, Luis Balboa, Marcelo’s father and agent, said Sunday.

Luis Balboa said the two sides have agreed on a contract, but the club still must drop one of its foreign players to make room for Balboa.

Balboa currently is training with the U.S. team in Mission Viejo.

Balboa’s strong performance during the World Cup was no surprise, but his lack of a professional contract had been.


There had been two stumbling blocks: doubt about the condition of his reconstructed knee and problems in contract negotiations.

Luis Balboa said a deal was struck with Puebla, in the Mexican First Division, but fell through last month when the club faxed one offer to Balboa in Los Angeles and--after he and his father had flown to Mexico and Balboa had been introduced to fans and media--reneged on it and reduced the money for the option year.

Three weeks ago, Balboa played for Olympiakos in a games against Red Star in Belgrade.

Luis Balboa said his son also has had offers from teams in England and France.


On Nov. 11, Tab Ramos played in his first game since being knocked unconscious during the U.S. team’s second-round World Cup match against Brazil.

The road back for Ramos has been frustrating and dangerous--doctors told the veteran midfielder that his fractured skull would keep him off the field for as long as nine months. They didn’t know how long the blurred vision and headaches would continue.

So, even though he played for only the last 10 minutes when his Spanish First Division club Real Betis played Atletico Madrid, Ramos was grateful to be playing at all.

“It’s been a long way back,” Ramos said from his home in Seville. “It’s been pretty difficult. The injury was delicate--I have to be careful to protect my head all the time. Even at home, if I’m bending over to pick something up, I’m thinking I could hit my head on something.


“I got to the point over the summer that I thought if I can go back to playing normally, I will. But if I don’t, I won’t. It’s not worth it. You can’t take that kind of a chance with your head.”

Ramos began training the first week in September and began to practice with his team the second week in October.

In his absence, Real Betis brought in another “foreign” midfielder, making it difficult for Ramos to win his starting job back. Spanish teams may use only three foreigners per match. Even when Ramos is completely recovered, he’ll have to fight to be among the allotted three players.

Ramos already had let his club know he wanted a transfer, but his injury complicated matters. By the time he returned to Spain in late August he all but missed the signing period that ended Sept. 1. The next signing period is Dec. 15.

Ramos has turned down an offer from a team in Portugal, preferring to stay in Spain. But the key thing is to play.

“I want to play,” Ramos said. “I don’t want to be the fifth foreigner. If you are a foreign player and you don’t start, you don’t even sit on the bench. You sit in the stands. I want to go somewhere where I can play.”



Arguments are still raging about the recently announced World Cup bonuses, specifically Alan Rothenberg’s total of $7 million. Kitchen-table discussions and bar-stool battles are one thing, but a Congressional debate is quite another.

The Washington Post reported that members of a House subcommittee responsible for Defense Department appropriations have begun looking into the possibility of placing a lien on the World Cup’s $60-million profit as a way of recovering some of the $14 million in federal funds spent on World Cup security.

The ranking members of the House Armed Service Committee’s subcommittee on readiness sent letters to Attorney General Janet Reno and Defense Secretary William J. Perry asking about the possibility of freezing the World Cup’s assets.

The letters were sent after published reports of Rothenberg’s $7 million and the $9 million in bonuses to other World Cup employees. According to the Post, the letters state: “We strongly feel that before any profit or bonuses are dispersed, the taxpayer deserves a refund, especially considering the acute funding problems that are cited by Defense Department officials.”

The letter to Perry includes this: “What we would like to know now is, specifically, how DOD funds were expended and to what extend the Department expects to be reimbursed from the organizing committee.”

Rothenberg had projected a $20 million profit and explained the eventual $60 million profit as the result, in part, of the unexpectedly low security costs.


Members of the subcommittee were said to be upset about the size of Rothenberg’s compensation: a salary of $800,000 over five years and a $3-million bonus.

Another note about Rothenberg’s bonus: It is very possible that his salary made him the highest paid executive of a nonprofit company.

After the president of United Way of America quit in 1992 amid allegations that he misused funds of the nation’s largest charity, the country was aghast to learn the chief executive earned $390,000.

That prompted a survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy of the nation’s 100 largest charitable foundations. According to the survey, only three of the 100 nonprofit organizations paid their chief executives more than $500,000.

The highest salary went to the chairman of the Keck Foundation, who was paid $624,500 in 1991, the second year of Rothenberg’s five-year $800,000 salary.

Last point: Rothenberg said his bonus should be based on financial success of the World Cup, which made $60 million. The Keck Foundation had assets of $821 million.