- The Washington Times - Friday, June 9, 2006

NUMBERS OF NOTE

14: Interlocking panels on the Teamgeist ball that will be used in the World Cup, replacing a ball with 32 panels. Adidas spent three years developing the new ball, which is said to be the roundest one ever. The company expects to sell 15 million of them this year.

181: Games played for Saudi Arabia by goalkeeper Mohammed Al Deayea, the most-capped player at the finals. Claudio Suarez of Mexico is second with 176 caps.

0: Players on the Italian and Saudi Arabian teams who compete professionally for teams abroad. All 23 players on the Ivory Coast team, however, compete in Europe.

$12 billion: Dollars in spending by fans that Germany expects during the monthlong event.

DID YOU KNOW?

• The average age of the 736 players at the finals is 27 years and 4 months. The oldest teams on average are the Czech Republic, France and Trinidad and Tobago at 29 years, 1 month. Ghana is the youngest team with an average age of 25 years, 2 months.

• English Premier League champion Chelsea has 17 players from 11 countries competing at the World Cup.

• Three teams at the World Cup (Tunisia, France and Ivory Coast) will be coached by Frenchmen. Three others (Australia, South Korea and Holland) will be coached by Dutchmen.

• Midfielder Chris Birchell is the first white player to play for Trinidad and Tobago. The English-born midfielder also will be the first player from his club, Port Vale, to play at the finals.

• Seven players are attending their fourth FIFA World Cup: Claudio Reyna and Kasey Keller (U.S.), Oliver Kahn (Germany), Mohammed Aj Deayea and Sami Al Jaber (Saudi Arabia) and Cafu and Ronaldo (Brazil). Only Cafu, Al Deayea and Al Jaber have actually played in three earlier finals.

• England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson named 17-year-old Theo Walcott to his World Cup team even though Walcott had yet to play for his country or his club Arsenal in top-flight soccer.

• When it comes to experience at international level, Japan and Mexico lead with a team average of 45 caps, while newcomer Ghana is the least experienced team with an average 15 caps.

• Adidas is building a 10,000-seat stadium near the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament, in downtown Berlin to attract fans during the Cup. For a $1.25 fee, fans can watch games on a big screen, test their skills at soccer stations and attend concerts.

• Four non-American Major League Soccer players — midfielder Douglas Sequeira (Real Salt Lake/Costa Rica), defender Claudio Suarez (Chivas USA/Mexico), defender Avery John (New England Revolution/Trinidad & Tobago) and forward Cornell Glen (Los Angeles Galaxy/Trinidad & Tobago) — were named to their nation’s World Cup rosters.

John Haydon

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