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FOOTBALL: FRANCE AXE ANELKA; Gunners kid out of this world.

ARSENAL superkid Nicolas Anelka and AC Milan's Ibrahim Ba were among six players left out of hosts France's World Cup 22 named yesterday.

French coach Aime Jacquet's squad includes Zinedine Zidane, of Juventus, Inter Milan's Youri Djorkaeff, Monaco goalkeeper Fabien Barthez and Marseille's Laurent Blanc - all of whom, barring injury, are certain to be the backbone of the team.

There were also call-ups for Arsenal midfield duo Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit, Chelsea's Frank Leboeuf, and defender Bixente Lizarazu, of Bayern Munich.

Auxerre striker Stephane Guivarc'h and Metz striker Robert Pires - being chased by a number of foreign clubs after impressive performances this season - were also named.

As well as Anelka and Ba, Jacquet dropped Lionel Letizi, Martin Djetou, Pierre Laigle and Sabri Lamouchi. All had been with the squad during recent training sessions.

France, meanwhile, has decided to back Sepp Blatter for the post of FIFA president - and that's upset backers of UEFA president Lennart Johansson who is also campaigning for the job.

"I'm disappointed about this disloyal act of the French FA," said Italian FIFA vice-president Antonio Matarrese, a member of Johansson's supporting board.

Blatter, FIFA's general secretary, has enlisted the support of Michel Platini, considered France's finest ever player and co-chairman of the World Cup.

The French football authorities had "officially and in writing" backed the UEFA executive committee's nomination of Johansson for the FIFA presidency last year, said Matarrese.

The new FIFA president will be elected June 8 in Paris.

ITALY coach Cesare Maldini has called injured Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero to the national squad's training camp next week, despite lingering doubts about his fitness for France.

Maldini said Del Piero, who pulled a right groin muscle in the Champions' Cup final in Amsterdam last Wednesday, would join the rest of the squad in Tuscany on Wednesday.

As a precaution, Maldini said he was also calling up Parma striker Enrico Chiesa, who had not previously been named in the World Cup squad.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Royce, Steve
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 24, 1998
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