BERLIN -- Three French soccer fans were pinned to the ground, handcuffed, and
put into vans by police in Stuttgart on Tuesday, the most tense encounter on
another tranquil day of World Cup action.
Few fans at each game were having their ticket details checked by security,
and tournament organizers said there still had been no problems with
FIFA and German organizers announced before the tournament that no fan would
be allowed into a stadium if the name on the ticket did not match personal
identification information submitted when the ticket was bought.
But Germany 2006 vice president Wolfgang Niersbach said Tuesday that only 500
to 1,000 people were being checked at random at each match, calling the
ticketing process "a positive success story."
In Stuttgart, where France played Switzerland, police officers approached
eight black youths wearing French national team jerseys and appeared to ask them
to show their passports.
The youths reacted angrily, shouting accusations of racism at police, and
there was some pushing and shoving before officers pinned three of the fans to
Police spokesman Olef Petersen said the officers sought to arrest one man on
suspicion of pickpocketing when the others tried to interfere.
Separately, a 48-year-old from Toulouse died of natural causes outside
Stuttgart's stadium. Petersen said the fan collapsed in the parking lot and
emergency care personnel were unable to resuscitate him.
In England, two supporters arrested in Frankfurt for wearing Nazi symbols
appeared before English magistrates as authorities sought to have them banned
from future matches.
A court in Leeds was told the two fans, arrested Saturday after England's 1-0
win over Paraguay, were wearing Nazi insignia, including the SS of Adolf
Hitler's concentration camp guards.
They were arrested Monday upon their return to England. They may still face
prosecution in Germany.
Also Monday, pickpockets stole match tickets from at least seven fans before
Italy's match against Ghana. Italy coach Marcello Lippi's son was among the
victims, police said.
Lippi's son had his shoulder bag stolen at a Hanover hotel two hours before
kickoff. In addition to two tickets, he lost credit and identity cards.
DESERT DACHSUND?: Japan's team mascot may be cute, but its name isn't exactly
Rommel, a 10-year-old male miniature dachshund, is named after Erwin Rommel,
the World War II German field marshal. The team has been criticized by some for
the dog's name.
Rommel is supposed to be good luck for the team. When he visits the team's
training camp, Japan rarely loses. In 18 straight internationals, Japan had
never lost a match after a visit from the dog. The streak was broken Monday when
Japan lost their World Cup Group F opener 3-1 to Australia.
"He's getting on in years, but he's still in pretty good shape," Japan's
public relations director Hideto Teshima said Tuesday. "His main role is to
interact with fans."
With his miniature replica of Japan's blue shirt and an official ID pass,
Rommel is a big hit at Japan's media and cultural center in downtown Bonn,
posing for pictures and getting plenty of hugs from Japan supporters.
Teshima, who is the dog's owner, said this will be Rommel's last World Cup. A
veteran of two World Cups, Rommel will retire soon.
ARGENTINE SUBS: Julio Cruz scored two goals and Lionel Messi had another in a
practice game Tuesday between an under-20 Argentine team and a team of players
from the Argentine national team.
Messi and Cruz did not play a single minute in Argentina's World Cup opener
on Saturday, a 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast.
"I'm eager to play," Cruz said.
He's not alone. Argentina has four strikers waiting for a chance behind
starters Hernan Crespo and Javier Saviola. Coach Jose Pekerman is expected to
start the same 11 he used last Saturday against Serbia-Montenegro on Friday .