Washington is one of six cities that has expressed interest in hosting the championship match of soccer's 1994 World Cup finals, which will be held in the United States for the first time. The others are Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas and Kansas City, Mo.
The host nation's capital city traditionally is the site of the championship match, but RFK Stadium's 57,000-seat capacity is a drawback. Unless a new stadium is built in this area, Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., outside of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Coliseum appear to be the leading candidates.
Washington and Annapolis-Baltimore are among 27 communities that are interested in hosting early round matches. The U.S. Soccer Federation will make recommendations for eight to 12 sites to FIFA, soccer's world governing body, next spring and sites will be announced no earlier than June 1991.
A U.S. venue inspection committee ended an 87-day tour of the proposed sites last week, but it did not indicate which of the facilities it visited it deemed to be the most impressive.
Other communities under consideration: Atlanta; Boston; Buffalo; Charlotte; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit-Ann Arbor, Mich.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; New York-New Haven; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland-Corvallis, Ore.; Princeton, N.J.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Salt Lake City; San Francisco, and Tampa, Fla.
Message from Bush
President Bush sent a good luck message to the U.S. World Cup team recently.
"As the first U.S. team to compete in this tournament in 40 years, you are helping in the 1990 games to kick off America's increasing visibility in one of the world's most popular sports. You already have won a place of honor in the hearts of America's sports fans. Best of luck this summer. We're behind you all the way."
The U.S. squad (7-6-1 against international competition this year) is in Europe for early training and exhibition matches against Liechtenstein (today) and Switzerland (Saturday).
After workouts June 3-9 in Tirrenia, Italy, the Americans will play first-round games against Czechoslovakia in Florence June 10, Italy in Rome June 14 and Austria in Florence June 19. The United States is 4-1-1 in its last six exhibition games . . .
Rumors that former West German star Franz Beckenbauer will coach the U.S. team in 1994 surfaced again this week. Beckenbauer, who played for the Cosmos of the North American Soccer League in 1977-80, will retire as coach of West Germany after this year's World Cup.
"If the Americans ask me, I will think it over well, and it's entirely possible that I'll go over there for a couple years," he said during a West German television interview.
FIFA and Italy's World Cup organizers have been assured by the Italian Ministry of the Interior that "every precaution has been taken to deal vigorously with any threat of trouble."
The ministry promised there would be enough personnel to conduct body checks on all spectators at stadium entrances. Alcohol and fireworks will be prohibited and other drinks will be sold only in non-dangerous containers.
Officials are most concerned about the situation on Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, where England will play first-round matches against Ireland, the Netherlands and Egypt. English and Dutch fans are notorious for their violence, prompting Italian officials to boost security forces.
At least 3,200 extra security agents will be in Cagliari, including several hundred anti-terrorist squad members. Because of limited hotel space, about 800 policemen will be housed in a palace near the stadium and the remainder will stay on two ships docked in the harbor.
Another proposal is to ban alcohol on the ferries traveling between Genoa and the island.
The British government is doing its part by giving Italian officials a list of 100 "fans," all of whom it has recommended should be banned from entry into Italy. Two Liverpool residents were expelled from Italy this week.
FIFA is trying to encourage good fan behavior by offering a prize to the most peaceful and colorful supporters. English fans will have another incentive, since the ban keeping British teams from European Cup play could be lifted if the fans do not cause problems . . .
Not only did the Soviet Union lose to Israel, 3-2, in an exhibition last week, but star midfielder Alexei Mikhailichenko injured his shoulder and is questionable for the Cup.