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Beckham towers over London

Published: Tuesday 11 June 2002, 18.00CET
uefa.com rounds looks at the more offbeat stories from the FIFA World Cup.
Published: Tuesday 11 June 2002, 18.00CET

Beckham towers over London

uefa.com rounds looks at the more offbeat stories from the FIFA World Cup.

David Beckham is rubbing shoulders with English military hero Lord Horatio Nelson after a statue of the Manchester United FC midfield player was placed on top of an empty plinth in London's Trafalgar Square. A waxwork of Beckham, whose first-half penalty saw England win their vital Group F game against Argentina 1-0, has been placed on the empty plinth in the popular square which may one day host a bronze statue of the queen of England's recently deceased mother.  Wax museum Madame Tussauds has placed Beckham's statue on the plinth ahead of England's vital game against Nigeria on Wednesday and the museum's owners, along with millions of England supporters, will be hoping for cool weather that afternoon for fear that their beloved captain does not melt away in the sun.

Prime Minister handed Japan ban
Killjoy politicians in Japan may have scuppered the national teams hopes of reaching the second round of the FIFA World Cup by denying Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi the opportunity to cheer them on in their final Group H game against Tunisia. Koizumi has emerged as something of a lucky charm after he attended Japan's 2-2 draw with Belgium and 1-0 win against Russia. "When I go, Japan don't lose," Koizumi told fellow politicians. "Maybe I should go to the match against Tunisia as well." However, members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have told Koizumi in no uncertain terms that he is to attend parliament rather than go to the match and have also stood in the way of a campaign to make Friday a national holiday so that Japanese supporters can watch the game. Expect Koizumi to join millions of his voters in suddenly developing a mystery illness on Friday morning.

Journalist shares Keane's fate
First the Republic of Ireland's Roy Keane was sent home from the World Cup in disrepute, and now the journalist who has been busy co-writing the Manchester United captain's autobiography has joined him in the sin bin. Former United player Eamon Dunphy has been suspended by Irish state broadcaster RTE for being "unfit for work" after admitting that he had been drinking and had not slept before his appearance on RTE's World Cup Live programme on Sunday. The dishevelled journalist - who had horrified viewers earlier in the tournament by saying that he hoped Ireland would lose against Cameroon as a punishment for their 'maltreatment' of Keane - was on air for only five minutes before RTE made an early substitution after he was seen slumped in his chair and slurring his words by thousands of Irish viewers. "I'd had a few drinks, I hadn't slept and I think I wasn't fit to fulfil my contract to provide proper commentary and I think RTE did the right thing," explained Dunphy. "I owe them [RTE] an apology. I owe the viewers an apology." Apologies, incidentally, are not Keane's strong suit.

Captive audience for Korea
After a rash of stories about prisoners escaping custody while their guards watched World Cup games, the Korean Republic authorities have found the right answer. All 60,000 inmates at the country's 40 prison complexes were allowed to watch Korea's 1-1 draw against the United States, and the 2,000 inmates at the modern, Yeoju prison near Seoul celebrated the occasion by decorating their cells and faces in Korean colours and even sticking newspaper pictures of coach Guus Hiddink on their faces. "South Korea is co-hosting the world's biggest festival," said prison governor Kim Yang-taek. "They [prisoners] are also Koreans and they deserve to enjoy the festival like other Korean people." A senior prison officer added: "It is ironic that those people who may be most deprived of the country's benefits have become such ardent patriots I think it would have been better for them to enjoy this kind of game outside this prison." Well, if he really meant it, he only had to open the gates and look the other way.

Million-toilet salue for Japan
Of course, Japanese supporters were free to move at will during their game against Russia, but it seems that rather a lot of armchair fans were glued to their couches as the drama unfolded. The Tokyo Water Office reported a gigantic surge of water use during the half-time break and at the end of Sunday's match as riveted fans who did not want to miss a minute of the action by going to the toilet suddenly answered the call of nature. Millions of supporters appear to have flushed their lavatories in unison although a spokesman for the Tokyo Water Office was wary of being too explicit about the reason behind this sudden surge: "Of course, we do not actually know what people were using the water for, but the period of high demand was very short, so we imagine it was for the toilet," he explained.

Last updated: 11/06/02 18.41CET

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