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    The World of Soccer
    The World of Soccer is a weekly column by international soccer columnist Alex Johnson. His e-mail address is: alex_johnson@ Include your full name and home town.

    Because of the volume of mail, he may not be able to respond to all messages.

    World Cup 1998

    The World Cup begins June 10 and while it is notable for being the last of the 20th century, it is also gaining notoriety for being the last overseen by Joao Havelange. The president of FIFA retires next month after 24 years on the job, and after making soccer one of the biggest and richest sports in the world. And this World Cup is the quintessential Joao Havelange production.

    In a special edition of the World of Soccer, Alex Johnson profiles Havelange and the upcoming tournament.

    Two Decades That Changed the World of Soccer
    Joao Havelange transformed FIFA into a significant political, social and economic player on the world stage and became one of the most powerful men in international sports. In July, he steps aside.

    Once Upon a Time in America
    It's almost criminal how few American soccer fans know that the United States once made it all the way to the World Cup semifinals. Really.

    The Glittering Prize at the End of the Road
    The irresistible force of Yugoslavia will smash into the immovable object of Argentina in the final. Emerging with the Jules Rimet trophy will be ...

    Group A
    A Stiff Challenge for Brazil
    Watch out for Norway, a good bet to upset the defending champions.
    1. Brazil | 2. Norway
    3. Scotland | 4. Morocco

    Group B
    The Italians Find a Way
    Chile will provide a strong challenge, but Italy has enough. Barely.

    1. Italy | 2. Chile
    3. Cameroon | 4. Austria

    Group C
    Home Cooking for France
    The hosts will breeze through the group – and a lot further.

    1. France | 2. Denmark
    3. Saudi Arabia | 4. South Africa

    Group D
    The Group of Death
    All four teams could finish first, but Spain looks the strongest.

    1. Spain | 2. Nigeria
    3. Paraguay | 4. Bulgaria

    Group E
    Early Test for the Dutch
    Holland and Belgium, those not-so- friendly neighbors, decide it early.
    1. Holland | 2. Belgium
    3. Mexico | 4. South Korea

    Group F
    Yugoslavia? Yes, Yugoslavia
    Even if it weren't old and fractious, Germany would still be second best.

    1. Yugoslavia | 2. Germany
    3. United States | 4. Iran

    Group G
    Romania, With Guns Blazing
    Powerful offenses will mean a lot of goals. Romania's is one of the best.

    1. Romania | 2. England
    3. Colombia | 4. Tunisia

    Group H
    Argentina's Walk in the Parc
    The world's best team has a walkover in the World Cup's easiest group.

    1. Argentina | 2. Croatia
    3. Japan | 4. Jamaica

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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