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All that remains now is for The Ring magazine to rank the top 10 boxers on the basis of how well they skate.
WIN, PLACE & JOLLY GOOD SHOW
By surrendering to an ultimatum from FIFA, the Zurich-based ruling body in world soccer, just hours before its season opener two weeks ago, the North American Soccer League acknowledged a painful fact: owing to the realities of international soccer politics and to its own penchant for using players from all corners of the globe, the NASL doesn't enjoy the same autonomy as the NFL, NBA, NHL and major league baseball.
FIFA had threatened to excommunicate the NASL unless it conformed to accepted international rules limiting each team to two substitutions per game and specifying that the offside line be at mid-field. The NASL had long allowed three substitutions per game (the better to utilize American players and cope with the heat of summer) and had placed offside lines 35 yards from each goal (to open the game to more scoring). The sudden demand for orthodoxy amounted to a power play by FIFA, whose senior vice-president, Harry Cavan of Northern Ireland, had pointedly told SI's Clive Gammon, "This is a very minor thing except for the principle of accepting the authority of the world organization."
The dispute also represented a show of force by the United States Soccer Federation, through which the NASL was obliged by protocol to work in dealing with FIFA. A relic of the days when soccer in this country was mainly the province of obscure ethnic leagues, the USSF seized the confrontation between the NASL and FIFA as a chance to make its presence felt. Thus, when FIFA at one critical point indicated that it might consider postponing its ultimatum until the end of the year, the USSF was notably cool to the idea. There was no postponement, and the NASL reluctantly consented to start its season with the prescribed rule changes in force. So far anyway, the new rules appear to have had little appreciable effect on the NASL's style of play, bearing out the fact that the changes themselves were less important than FIFA's desire to show who was boss in world soccer.
THE MATING GAME