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World Cup Won’t Stop in New Jersey

Times Staff Writer

New Jersey might have the NHL champion Devils, but it won’t have the fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., was excluded from the list of world championship venues Thursday when U.S. Soccer announced the six stadiums it had selected for this summer’s three-week, 16-nation tournament.

The unwillingness of the NFL’s New York Giants to give up the stadium for two weeks, even though they are on the road and also have a bye during the time it was needed, prompted U.S. Soccer to choose Philadelphia’s new Lincoln Financial Field instead.

Also selected were RFK Stadium in Washington, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.; Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio; PGE Park in Portland, Ore., and the Home Depot Center in Carson.

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Bob Contiguglia, U.S. Soccer’s president, said these were “the six venues that made the most sense, both geographically and functionally,” given the short time the U.S. has to organize the tournament as a stand-in host for SARS-stricken China.

U.S. Soccer also confirmed that the Home Depot Center, which Contiguglia said “represents our future,” would be the site of the championship final Oct. 12.

The 1999 Women’s World Cup opened in front of 78,972 at Giants Stadium, and George Zoffinger, chief executive of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, told Associated Press he was “frustrated, disappointed and very angry” that it had been bypassed this time.

But as Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer secretary general, said, “the clock ran out” on Giants Stadium, especially once the Giants began speaking of a lawsuit.

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The Home Depot Center will not be enlarged for the final, Flynn said, adding that FIFA has “accepted it with the current seating structure that it has. So there will be no additions; we will go as is.”

Although no schedule was revealed -- it must first be approved by FIFA -- the 32-match tournament is expected to start with 12 first-round doubleheaders, beginning Sept. 20 or 21, then feature four quarterfinal doubleheaders, all probably in the East and Midwest, before moving to Portland for the semifinals and to Carson for the final and third-place games.

Korean Showdown

Defending Asian women’s champion North Korea routed host Thailand, 14-0, in Bangkok on Thursday in the Asian Women’s Championship that also serves as the region’s qualifying tournament for the Women’s World Cup.

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North Korea, unbeaten after two games in the 14-team event, got four goals from Yun Yong-Hui and four from Ri Kum-Suk. Jin Pyol-Hui scored three.

South Korea, meanwhile, won its third consecutive game when it shut out Singapore, 4-0.

North Korea will play Singapore on Saturday and the two Koreas will then meet Monday.

On Wednesday, China, runner-up to the United States in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, overwhelmed India, 12-0, with Sun Wen scoring six of the goals and Bai Jie four.

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China, Japan and the two Koreas are positioned to advance to the semifinals June 19. The tournament ends June 21, with two teams qualifying for the world championship and a third advancing to a playoff against Mexico.

Zidane Reaches Out

Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid’s French midfielder, a World Cup winner in 1998 and European champion in 2000, is working to organize a charity match between France’s 1998 team and Olympique Marseille, hoping to help victims of last month’s Algerian earthquake.

“We have to help these people because human beings have to show solidarity with each other,” Zidane told L’Equipe newspaper. “I was born in France but my roots are in Algeria.”

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Zidane said the game would be “a way to tell Algerians, ‘I am deeply affected by what happened to you, and my heart is with you.’ ”

More than 2,000 people were killed in the earthquake May 21, another 10,000 were injured and 80,000 were left homeless.

Cruzeiro’s Cup

Cruzeiro, inspired by playmaker Alex, routed Flamengo, 3-1, in front of 80,000 fans at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Wednesday to win the Brazil Cup, 4-2 on aggregate, after the teams had tied the first match, 1-1, in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

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Alex set up all three Cruzeiro goals in the first half hour, the first by Deivid in the opening minute, the second by Colombian forward Victor Aristizabal and the third by Luisao.

Flamengo managed a goal by Fernando Baiano in the second half, but only excellent goalkeeping by Flamengo’s Julio Cesar kept Cruzeiro from scoring an even more lopsided victory.

Peace Cup Foundering

Two leading European teams, Bayer Leverkusen of Germany and AS Roma of Italy, have withdrawn from the World Peace Cup, the eight-team tournament in South Korea next month that includes the Galaxy among its participants. Both teams cited fear of the SARS virus as the reason for their withdrawal.

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Quick Passes

After celebrating Greece’s Euro 2004 qualifying victory over Ukraine on Wednesday, veteran Greek national team defender Nikos Dabizas lost control of his car, slammed into a traffic light in Athens, broke his arm and barely escaped the vehicle before it burst into flames.

Midfielder Alex Aguinaga is leaving Necaxa after spending 14 years with the Mexican league team and helping it win three league championships. Aguinaga, who has played 102 games for Ecuador’s national team, has not announced his retirement, but neither has he revealed where he will play next season.

Goals by Nelson Tapia and Mark Gonzalez helped Chile to a 2-1 comeback victory over Honduras in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Wednesday night. Jose Luis Pineda scored for Honduras.

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Times wire services contributed to this report.


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