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|August 21, 2000||
Soccer sells, Rivaldo or noScott McDonald in Sydney
Rivaldo, the world's top footballer, will not be coming to the party but organisers of the Olympic soccer tournament said on Monday they still expected to sell more than one million tickets.
Tournament director Peter Hugg said there would be about 1.5 million tickets on sale for the men's and women's competitions and "clearly the progress of the Australian men's and women's teams will also dictate interest".
"We are looking to top the million mark which would be tremendous."
He said the men's tournament would not suffer because Barcelona's Brazilian international Rivaldo, world and European player of the year, was omitted last week from his country's Olympic soccer squad.
"If we focus on one player, then it is disrespectful to the other players. There are so many great players," he said.
There are also worries that Australia's top player Harry Kewell may not recover from an injury in time to take part.
But Hugg said interest in the tournament was still huge, especially in Asia in the build-up to the 2002 World Cup to be hosted by Japan and South Korea.
"There is a lot of interest in Asia, especially as the two host nations for 2002 have qualified," he said.
One Japanese travel company is organising a special tour allowing fans to fly from Tokyo, arrive in time to see Japan play Brazil on September 20 in Brisbane and then fly straight back after the game, sleeping on the plane both ways.
Hugg said South Korea and Japan were sending observers from their organising committees to watch the tournament.
Kewell, who plays for English premier league club Leeds United, has been named in Australia's squad but does not know if he will recover in time from an Achilles tendon injury.
"Sydney's my home town and I'd set my heart on being there to do the business for my country in front of my friends and family," Kewell said in a recent Australian newspaper column, adding he should know in the next two weeks if his injury will clear up in time.
The men's tournament starts on September 13, two days before the Games' opening ceremony, and the final is on September 30.
Mail Sports Editor
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