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The biggest buyer was Milan's Internazionale team, staked by a Sardinian oilman, which spent $650,000 for one player and an estimated $1.7 million in all. It was reported, at one point, that Napoli, a team backed by Shipowner Achille Lauro, had bid $1.3 million for Gigi Meroni, a bearded beatnik left winger from Torino. Then Giovanni Agnelli, who owns Fiat and backs Torino's intercity rival Juventus, made a deal for Meroni. This so angered Torino's fans that they demonstrated in front of Agnelli's home. Disturbed at the prospect of offending half the Fiat drivers in Turin, Agnelli canceled the deal, making Meroni one Italian star who stayed put, to the relief of Torino rooters. Even more relieved at week's end was the management of the Excelsior Gallia, which was concerned at "people running in and out in their jerseys" and had asked the soccer league to hold its meetings elsewhere.
TRY THIS, GRANDPAPA
One of the problems put to the 99 schoolboys participating in the recent Math Olympics held in Cetinje, Yugoslavia read: "In a sports meeting lasting n days (n greater than 1) there are m medals to be won. On the first day one medal and [1/7] of the remaining (m—1) medals are won. On the second day two medals and [1/7] of the remainder are won. And so on. On the nth day (the last) exactly n medals are won. How many days did the meeting last, and what was the total number of medals?"
Solving such sporting questions (answer to the above: six days and 36 medals) were 15-and 16-year-olds from 13 nations, including England, Italy, Russia, France, Sweden and Hungary. The Russians won the most gold medals, and the East Germans, who had set up a special Olympic training camp to prepare for the competition, were second. The French, who performed surprisingly poorly, explained away their defeat by contending that the questions put to the Olympians were not sufficiently avant-garde. "They were the questions of Grandpapa," one French official said.
In Jakarta last month the final match of the world badminton championship, the Thomas Cup, was interrupted and then postponed when the spectators rioted. At the time Malaysia was leading archrival Indonesia 4-3 and needed to win only one game to take the fifth and final match. The partisan Indonesian crowd, sensing the home team was about to lose the cup, which it had held for nine years, began jeering and exploding flashbulbs in an effort to distract the Malaysians. They were succeeding when the final match was stopped by the International Badminton Federation secretary, Harold Scheele.
Since world-class badminton is usually played in silence, flash cameras are barred and in the most torrid heat air conditioners are shut off because the currents might subtly affect the flight of the shuttlecock, it was no wonder that Harold Scheele decided badminton Indonesian style "was simply not sport." He suggested to local officials that they calm the crowd or complete the competition behind closed doors. They refused to do either, saying they would be lynched by the mob. The next day Scheele and the Malaysians were flown out of the country under military escort.
Early this month in London the International Badminton Federation ruled that the match should be concluded on neutral ground in New Zealand. Some Indonesians argued that if their team did not show up in New Zealand, it would not actually be defeated on the courts and therefore would not have to hand over the cup. Last week Indonesia's General Suharto and his cabinet considered the issue, and admitted defeat, though not in a very winning way. Foreign Minister Adam Malik announced that the government believed a costly journey to New Zealand—for perhaps 15 minutes of badminton—was unnecessary, and suggested the Thomas Cup be returned to the IBF.
The trophy will be shipped to London, where the IBF will simply readdress it to Malaysia. The Indonesians declined to deliver the prize directly to the winners. " Indonesia is an utter failure at everything but badminton," declared Scheele, somewhat pompously. "This is the only activity at which the country can enjoy some measure of world prestige, and it is desperate to maintain that prestige."