"In the night from Friday to Saturday, the World Cup changed its face. The doors of the universal exposition were closed. The stands of Asiatics, Caribbeans, North Africans, Yankees and other countries pulled the curtains. A great tournament between Europe and Latin America has begun, like in the old days.
"The World Cup was expanded, but the constant is there: other than Spain, the big countries are present and the big ones are home.
"They went home in big numbers, even though four years ago the U.S. and Saudi Arabia made it past the first round. Among the eighthfinalists are the usual: Brazil and Germany (13th participation each), Italy and Argentina (ninth), England (eighth), Yugoslavia (seventh), France (fifth) and Bora Milutinovic (fourth, with four different countries before being ousted by Denmark).
"Two new ones were there, who aren't novices: Norway, twice victorious over Brazil in a year, and Croatia, country with a great football tradition which has given much for the glory of the team from the Yugoslavian republic.
"The World Cup has changed its test. It is an assembly of eight little championships . . . I win, I go on. I lose, I pack my suitcases and the trainer is gone (this assertion isn't always true, but nearly always).
"After 48 games, what have we seen?
"Full and festive stadiums . . . Disconcerting refereeing . . . Teams presenting football of today in its totality, playing in the spirit of the game."
The daily Yediot Ahronot reports Friday on a case of soccer-related domestic violence:
"Even before the beginning of the World Cup, psychologists and relationship-experts predicted that the obsessive viewing of the soccer games will result in damage to marital relations.
"The experts spoke of women who will cheat on their husbands who would be glued to the screens, complaints of wife-neglect and fights over the TV, but most did not predict any female violence.
"But, as it turns out, there are women who just cannot stand the soccer any more and its gets on their nerves. Last night, at 11:15, a 57-year-old man was watching the game between Spain and Bulgaria at his Tel Aviv home. Quite a number of goals were scored, and the man was shouting with enthusiasm. At a certain stage, his wife, 55, decided to put an end to her prolonged suffering, and started beating her husband, even trying to strangle him.
" 'I am sick of him watching the games all day," she reportedly told police. 'I just can't take it any more!'
"The woman was taken before a judge and sent for a mental evaluation."
From the New Hanoi newspaper:
"The price of a Sony TV in Ho Chi Minh City has increased 10% to 6.3 million dong ($484) because so many families want to get a new TV for the World Cup. You can still rent a TV with 34-inch screen for 200,000 dong ($15) per night for the matches.
"Prices for antennaes have doubled during the World Cup. In the markets, T-shirts with 'France 98' or a picture of a famous player are still available for $1.50 to $2.50."
Correspondents Helene Elliott in Marseille, David Lamb in Hanoi and Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.