CORNER KICKS

Times Staff Writer

Five things happening around the world:

1Steve Nash could walk into any Major League Soccer club today and make the starting lineup within a few weeks, but the soccer-loving NBA star's passion lies across the sea, like so many others.

He might play basketball for the Phoenix Suns, but Nash's soccer heart is with Tottenham Hotspur, the English Premier League club better known simply as Spurs. Talking to England's Guardian newspaper, Nash predicted that he one day would have a role to play with the 126-year-old London club.

It won't be about trying to make money, Nash said, separating himself from American investors who have taken over several of England's leading teams.

"Unlike them, I've been a passionate supporter all my life," Nash said. "My parents are from North London and so it's not like I'm some Yank who wants to make a profit out of football. I don't care about making money. I just want to see Spurs succeed. If I can help, that's great."

Nash, a Canadian who recently invested in the Women's Professional Soccer league that launches in the U.S. next year, is a close friend of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and director of soccer Damien Comolli. "They know how much the club means to me," Nash said. "But at this point it's more a friendship than a business partnership."

2The Galaxy plays Gamba Osaka of Japan today in the opening doubleheader of the Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii, but Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit already has signaled his displeasure over one part of the four-team tournament.

The games, also featuring the MLS champion Houston Dynamo and Sydney FC of Australia, are being played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, where the surface is artificial turf.

"I'm not happy we have to play on turf," Gullit said. "Some players have issues with it and will only be able to play a certain number of minutes. It's a disappointment, but we must deal with it and that's why we have brought a big squad with us."

3Club America fell into line Tuesday and joined five other Mexican league clubs that have fired their coaches since the beginning of the year.

In this case it was Daniel "El Ruso" Brailovsky who was shown the door, less than five months after taking charge of Mexico's highest-profile team.

Replacing Brailovsky is Ruben Omar Romano, 49, formerly the coach of Pachuca and Cruz Azul, among others, and a man more famously remembered, perhaps, for having been kidnapped in Mexico City in the summer of 2005 and held captive for 65 days before being rescued by federal agents.

4One of Europe's worst-kept secrets finally was let out of the bag Tuesday when Ottmar Hitzfeld, the coach of German Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich, officially was named as the next coach of Switzerland's national team.

Hitzfeld, 59, who coached Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to European Champions League titles in 1997 and 2001, respectively, will take over immediately after the June 7-29 European Championship that Switzerland is co-hosting with Austria. He will be replaced at Bayern by Jurgen Klinsmann.

5Sam Allardyce, a success at Bolton Wanderers but recently dismissed as coach of Newcastle United, had some pointed words for wealthy and impatient team owners who fold when facing fans' wrath and take it out on coaches.

They are "huge businessmen, multimillionaires in their own right, very clever men, but never been shouted at," he told the Guardian. "They can't stand the pressure, their knees buckle, they don't stand strong and they use the easy option to take the pressure off themselves.

"They have to be the strongest ones and often they're the weakest ones. They might like the limelight when success comes, but they certainly can't put up with the other side of it."

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STAT OF THE WEEK

When former Wales international winger Ryan Giggs, above, steps on the field today for Manchester United in its European Champions League game against Olympique Lyon in France, he will become the eighth player in history to take part in 100 European games. One of the others to do so was another Manchester United star, David Beckham, who played in 103.

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