Talk about a real mess

GEORGE GROSS

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Reports from Brazil suggest that Joao Havelange, honorary president of the Federation of International Football Association and former long-time president of FIFA, is quietly working behind the scenes to arrange a postponement of the under-20 World Cup scheduled for six Canadian cities this summer, including Toronto's new BMO Stadium at the CNE.

Havelange apparently is concerned that the July dates conflict with not only the July 8 Toronto Grand Prix, but the Pan American Games scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, as well.

Havelange is worried that most countries would send their most talented young players to the under-20s and use lesser talents for the Pan Ams.

Bruce Thomas, a prominent Toronto lawyer and chairman of the under-20 event, also is concerned, but more specifically with the auto race.

"How can our teamsand fans get to the stadium when the CNE's race track with its concrete barriers will make access to the stadium almost impossible?" he said. "It would be better if Mr. Havelange could convince FIFA that the under-20 World Cup should be postponed either to August before the CNE opens, or to September, after the CNE closes."

Couldn't someone in the local organizing committee have raised this issue when the championship was first awarded to Canada and games were scheduled in Toronto? After all, it's not like this is the first time that the Grand Prix has been held in July.

TOUGH MEASURES

ImagineMaple Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr.,walking into thedressing room afteran embarrassing home defeat and saying to the players:"You guys stunk out the joint and disappointed the fans who have been supporting you. To right things, you guys will pay for the tickets of 5,000 fans from your own pockets. And to make sure you do, we will deduct the ticket prices from your salaries."

The NHLPA surely would unite in a hailstorm of resistanceto such a manoeuvre.

But over in Europe, where things are done slightly differently,Maros Krajci of the Slovan Bratislava hockey team did exactly that after it lost 10-1 at home to Trencin. The Slovan players didn't like it, but couldn't doanything about it.Their coach, former NHLer Zdeno Ciger, while no doubt publicly sympathizing with his players, probably smiled himself to sleep.

REMEMBERING GUMP

It was sad to hear of the passing of Gump Worsley, the fine goaltender of the mighty Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers.

Iknew him for many years and have the ankles to prove it.Not many are aware that the Gumper was an outstanding, not to mentionrobust, defender for the Montreal soccer team. I played against him in a game and found out that his eyesight wasn't the best because he often mistook my ankle for the soccer ball. May he rest in peace.

BOWER IN BOOK FORM

Speaking of goalies, Johnny Bower, the lovable former netminder of the Leafs and custodian of four Stanley Cup titles, has written his autobiography with the help of Windsor journalist Bob Duff.

The book The China Wall with a foreword from Gordie Howe is available in most book stores.

SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME

And it was really nice to see yet another puckstopper, Ken Dryden, being honoured by Les Habs.

Ken was always a studious fellow and a good businessman. I remember the 1972 Super Series with the Soviets when Team Canada stopped in Stockholm en route to Moscowfor two exhibition games.

One morning,we were sitting in the lobby of the hotel and I purchased a copy of USA Today. After I finished reading it, Ken asked me if he could have the paper. Naturally, I handed it to him. Later, I found out he had sold it to another player for 20 cents.


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