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Football: Cruyff turns on cabinet minister; SPREAD MARKETS THEY SHOULD BE OFFERING WORLD CUP DIARY.

BAD losers are great. Bad losers with bizarre gripes are even better.

Step forward Johann Cruyff, the bitter and twisted ex-hero of all Netherlands.

Cruyff could have identified various people to blame for Holland's premature exit from the finals, from the huffy van Nistelrooy, to the inexperienced van Basten, to the ultra-officious Ivanov, to the utterly useless Kuyt.

Instead he has chosen immigration minister Rita Verdonk.

"I don't want to say the minister is to be blamed for the Dutch team getting knocked out, but she is definitely partly to blame," Cruyff wrote in a newspaper column. Cruyff said Ms Verdonk's decision not to grant Ivory Coast winger Salomon Kalou Dutch citizenship deprived the team of a strong attacking option.

Power of the Post

AN intriguing email reaches Diary from Tim Cox, of Dorking, Surrey, who writes: "My copy of the Racing Post was confiscated during the bag search before the Switzerland v Ukraine match on Monday in Cologne. Has 'information' become an offensive weapon?"

We know the authorities are paranoid about so-called gambling material infiltrating the World Cup - the FA won't allow the Post to be delivered to the England HQ - but this is ridiculous. Then again, we did tip one of the teams to score during the tedious secondround encounter so maybe the security staff found it so laughably wrong they wanted to show all their mates.

A big welcome to Tokyo

ENGLAND fans may already be feeling glum about the 2010 World Cup finals on account of the fact that Steve McClaren is likely to be in charge, but here's something to cheer you up.

One member of the 2010 organising committee is called Tokyo Sexwale, surely the greatest name in football history.

Sexwale, a former political prisoner who spent ten years behind bars with Nelson Mandela, yesterday reminded players of the responsibilties that come with performing on such a big stage.

"This product is a global product. It's a television product," he said. "It brings each one of things that you do and you don't do into the living rooms of people. So there's a greater responsibility.

"It's not like you can pick your nose in private, but if you pick it here in public, we see you in our living rooms."

We like him already.

Dumb and dumber

YOU might not think the TV coverage in Britain is up to much but it's no better elsewhere in the world by all acounts.

Take this gem from Gary Mabbutt after the conclusion of the second round to an audience that included viewers in South Africa and Dubai: "I haven't seen a team that I don't think is unbeatable."

Just think what tactical conversations between Mabbutt and David Pleat must have been like when they were captain and manager of Tottenham.

0.01-0.015 number of Christmas cards exchanged between Luis Aragones and members of the French squad this December
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 29, 2006
Words:483
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