Italian Soccer Players Stage Weekend Strike

From Staff and Wire Reports

An unprecedented strike by the Italian Soccer Players Assn. canceled nine matches Saturday and Sunday.

According to the union, the main issue is voting representation on the council that oversees the sport in Italy.

Other sticking points are a fund, financed by sport authorities, for unemployed players and for those on teams in financial trouble; new transfer rules and limits on hiring of non-Europeans.

Federation President Antonio Matarrese has indicated he is ready to meet the demands, and talks will resume next week.

The Italian Olympic Committee stands to lose about $39 million with the week's elimination of soccer betting pools, its major source of financing.

This week's cancellation may not be the last: The union has threatened another walkout for April 21 if talks fail.

Auto Racing

Andre Ribeiro of Brazil held off Al Unser Jr. on a restart with four laps left and won the Rio 400, the first IndyCar race in Latin America.

Ribeiro completed the 133 laps around the 1.8-mile modified oval at Nelson Piquet Raceway 2.1 seconds ahead of Unser, with an average speed of 117.927 mph.

Blaine Johnson, John Force, Jim Yates and Dave Schultz posted wins at the 27th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.

The $1,734.200 event was the third stop in the 19-race NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Johnson, of Santa Maria picked up his second victory of the season in Top Fuel. Force, from Yorba Linda, collected his fifth consecutive Funny Car victory, while Yates, from Alexandria, Va., won the Pro Stock.

Schultz, from Ft. Myers won the Pro Stock Bike race.

Miscellany

After losing 10 finals on the ATP Tour since 1992, Cedric Pioline of France finally won his first singles title with a 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) victory over Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark in the Copenhagen Open.

Sri Lanka won cricket's World Cup final at Lahore, Pakistan with an upset of Australia.

The men's team from Norway won the final 4 x 7.5 kilometer relay race in the biathlon World Cup competition at Hochfilzen, Austria. . . . Andreas Goldberger of Austria finished fourth in the large hill ski jumping competition at Oslo, Norway to clinch his second straight World Cup title. . . . Annamarie Thomas of the Netherlands won the women's 1,500 meters at the World Single Distance Speedskating Championships at Hamar, Norway.

Russ Bertram built a large lead in the semifinals, then held off a late charge to win the 10-meter platform competition of the HTH Diving Classic at Rockville, Md. In the women's three-meter springboard competition, Mary Ellen Clark defeated Melisa Moses, 855.60 to 842.55.

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