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Football News - Vigilantes, Robocops and the Colonel

Koizumi & Kim Get Shirty

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung engaged in a spot of ‘soccer diplomacy' on Koizumi's recent visit to Seoul. In a brief stop off at Seoul Stadium both leaders swapped a number 10 shirt with their names emblazoned on them.

Vigilantes v Hooligans

Riot armed Japan policeman.Further evidence of Japan's paranoia concerning foreigners is the establishment by 300 local residents living near Yokohama's International Stadium of the ‘Kohoku Ward Safeguard Network 2000' to watch out for hooligans in their neighborhood and report any incidents by radio to the police. The organization is made up of six troops and includes a ‘patrol and surveillance team' and ‘ a cleanup and beautification squad' which will base themselves near major stations on match days. Local official Kiyoshi Tanabe was quoted in the Yomiuri Shimbun: ‘We shouldn't leave responsibility for everyone's safety up to the police. Residents in the ward should also play a supporting role.'
Another British government official, Minister of State at the Home Office, John Denham, visited Osaka to reassure local authorities over the threat of hooliganism at the Nigeria v England game in the city on June 12. British plainclothes ‘spotters' will work with local police to help them distinguish between raucous, but peaceful fans and genuine troublemakers. ‘Certainly, English supporters can be enthusiastic, exuberant, noisy, but that does not mean they are here to cause trouble,' he said. We hope his message got through to ‘Kohoku Ward Safeguard Network 2000.'
Schools near Nagai Stadium in Osaka are considering closing on the day of the England game.
The Japanese Police Authority unveiled new ‘Robocop' style riot gear at a total cost of US$15m to outfit police during the World Cup. The new equipment, weighing 10.6 kg and costing US$900 a set, consists of a hardened plastic shield, a helmet and body armour. The new transparent shields are strong enough to break an ice pick or knife. New police batons issued with the riot gear contain chemicals, which can douse flares in seconds.

More Trains/More Visas

JR Tokai will lay on two extra trains on June 11, the evening of the Germany v Cameroon game, from Kakegawa, Shizuoka to Nagoya. The trains leave at 11.30pm and midnight and arrive in Nagoya an hour later. Six extra trains are also planned for Tokyo calling at Shin-Yokohama where the Ireland v Saudi Arabia game is taking place on the same night. Requests for more trains to Kyoto & Osaka were turned down by the two prefectures, citing noise.

More trains will also run from Shin-Yokohama on June 9 after the Japan v Russia game and the World Cup final on June 30.
The government is also planning to provide a broadband wireless internet service on trains running between Narita airport and Tokyo to showcase Japan's advances in IT.

Foreign visitors traveling from Narita airport in Tokyo to destinations in Korea and from Incheon airport in Korea to Japan will be able to pre-clear immigration formalities in the country of departure. The move is designed to ease congestion at arrivals terminals in both host countries.

No Knives, Umbrellas or Ticker tape

Knives, umbrellas and ticker tape are among the list of banned items that cannot be brought inside Japan World Cup stadiums. The list also includes alcohol, bottles, cans and flagpoles, though you should be able to buy a beer inside. JAWOC advises fans to wear a raincoat or bring folding umbrellas in case of rain.

More Blatter

Embattled FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, under fire for alleged vote-buying and financial mismanagement, will face a challenge from Cameroon's Issa Hayatou for the FIFA presidency in May, supported by Korea's Chung Mong Joon, the president of the KFA.

World Cup Boost

The Dai-ichi Life Research Institute estimated that Japan could enjoy a US$2.8 billion benefit from the World Cup, boosting GDP by 0.1% for the year and 0.3% for the April-June quarter. Total World Cup spending could reach US$1.76 billion in Japan. All was not good news however, as increased spending during the tournament would lead to cutbacks in other areas as the Japanese economy continues to suffer.

Libya 2010

Gadhafi.The football-mad son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, wants Libya to bid to host the 2010 World Cup. Al-Saadi Gadhafi, who holds shares in Italian club, Juventus, was quoted in Italy's Corriere dello Sport: ‘We are not lacking on the economic front. We are prepared to invest a lot.'

Carry on Camping

JAWOC expects 22 of this year's competing teams to base themselves in Japan. France and Slovenia are among six teams who will play their group games in Korea but train in Japan. France will prepare in Ibusuki, Kagoshima and Slovenia have chosen Mimasaka in Okayama. The news comes as something of a PR coup in the battle of the co-hosts.

Hard selThe official Swedish supporters club took up only half their share of tickets for the national team's games in Group F and the rest will now be returned to the host nation, Japan, for sale. England's supporters will no doubt be annoyed that this allocation was not turned over to them. Over in Korea, more than 100,000 tickets allocated to them for the World Cup still remain unsold.
With little over two months to go to the tournament, South Korea's World Cup organising committee have sold only 77.6 per cent of their allocated tickets.
Local fans have snapped up all games involving the hosts and neighbors China, but matches involving Paraguay, Slovenia and South Africa have proved a hard sell.


The Japanese Construction & Transport Ministry, which controls huge sources of government revenue, plans to offer discounts on air, sea and rail fares during the World Cup from May 25 – July 5. As well as reducing domestic airfares for visitors by 50% for one domestic flight after arriving in Japan from the current 12,600 yen, the government is considering a wide range of reductions on rail journeys from Tokyo's Narita airport, discount fares on buses and ferries and even hotel price cuts.

Travel to Japan

The partners of Ireland's World Cup will have to pay their own way to Japan to support their men. The FAI will not be paying for spouse travel unlike their counterparts at the English FA.
Meanwhile England fan Andy Nicholson plans to drive 15,000 miles in his second-hand camper van to support his country's team, crossing by ferry from China to Korea and then on to Japan.

Health Fears

The high cost of medical treatment in Japan has worried hospitals, as they fear that uninsured foreign visitors will not be able to pay their bills, leaving local health authorities to pick up the tab.

Logo Jam

Japanese prefectures hosting training camps for teams competing in the 2002 World Cup are angry at not being allowed to use the official FIFA logo and trademark to promote their municipalities during the tournament. The extra revenue generated by producing World Cup mementos featuring the official logo was to be used to offset the expense of providing accommodation and training facilities.

Chung for President

Chung Mong Joon, vice president of FIFA, president of the KFA and co-chairman of KOWOC, has announced he might run in Korea's next presidential election in December 2002.

World Cup cigarettes.Smokescreen

The state-run Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Corporation's announcement that it will produce 10 million special World Cup packs of cigarettes has angered officials at FIFA, who are keen to distance themselves from the tobacco industry. ‘88s' – a new brand introduced after the Olympics of that year in Korea became a best seller. Fifa spokesperson Keith Cooper retorted: ‘The fact that FIFA has not had a tobacco sponsor for the past 16 years and has signed an agreement of co-operation with the World Health Organization for a smoke-free World Cup speaks for itself.'

Dust Storms

The Korean press reported huge dust storms blown over the Korean peninsula from China in late March. Airports and schools were forced to shut down and the dust storms, which also carry harmful particles from China's industrial cities, could threaten the World Cup in June, though they are a more common phenomenon in early spring.

Crisper Cash

The Bank of Korea plans to circulate new paper notes for this year's World Cup and remove worn-out bills as an image building exercise.

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