Originally created 06/04/06

World Cup notebook

Two-time World Cup champion Argentina might never win another World Cup because of a broken promise.

In 1986, to prepare for the high altitude in Mexico City, the national team trained for several weeks in Tilcara, a small town in the Andes near the border with Bolivia.

The team, and coach Carlos Bilardo, also went to pray in front of the Virgen of Copacabana, asking for strength to win the World Cup.

Bilardo vowed that if the country won the World Cup, the team would return to the town to give thanks.

Argentina did win, defeating West Germany in the final.

But it seems the team never returned to keep its promise, leading residents of Tilcara to say by breaking its promise the country would never win the World Cup again.

Julio Humberto Grondona, president of the Argentine Football Association, and other team officials went recently to Tilcara - just in case Bilardo hadn't.

However, Bilardo claims he did return to Tilcara, apparently on a private visit that went unnoticed.

"They are all lies, lies," Bilardo said recently. "When I make a promise, I keep it."

Bilardo said the only promise he had yet to fulfill was returning to give thanks at the foot of another religious shrine near Buenos Aires.

TIME SHIFT: One of the reasons the United States arrived in Germany 10 days before its World Cup opener on June 12 was to get adjusted to the time shift, which is six hours from the East Coast and nine hours from the West Coast.

"A lot of the guys are still getting over the little bit of a time change, and our sleeping patterns are a little off." U.S. forward Brian McBride said.

REFEREE NAMED: Horacio Elizondo will be the referee when host Germany plays Costa Rica in the opening match of the World Cup.

The Argentine was picked to officiate Friday's match in Munich by the FIFA Referees Committee, which met Thursday.

The other 15 referees to work during the first set of games in the opening round were also selected.

PREPARED: The Seuerwehr Fire Brigade and the Volunteer Fire Service in Wuerzburg staged a decontamination drill Saturday in the event of a biological or chemical attack during the World Cup.

The Seuerwehr brigade will be deployed to cover the stadium in Nuremberg during the tournament, but similar teams will be at all 12 World Cup venues.


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