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Giuseppe Signori scored in the 23rd minute Friday night as Italy beat Switzerland 1-0 at Rome in its last warmup game before leaving for the World Cup in the United States.

The Italians, who open the World Cup against Ireland on June 18 at Giants Stadium, made defensive mistakes that drew criticism from coach Arrigo Sacchi. Switzerland, which opens against the United States at the Pontiac Silverdome on June 18, wasted a number of scoring chances."Our defense was not good at all," Sacchi said. "We were often in crisis when Switzerland held control of the ball while we were fairly good on counterattacks. I hope the less-than-brilliant performance is due to heavy trainings we had in the last two weeks. We must improve, especially in defense."

Signori, who led the Italian League in scoring with 23 goals for Lazio Rome, scored the goal on a pass from midfield by Demetrio Albertini. Swiss defenders claimed Signori was offside and protested loudly to referee Juan Manuel Brito of Portugal.

In Friday's other games, Bulgaria tied Ukraine 1-1 and Colombia and Northern Ireland played at Foxboro, Mass.

Bulgaria 1, Ukraine 1

At Sofia, Bulgaria, Nasko Sirakov put the home team ahead in the 18th minute with a low kick from the back area, but Yurii Sak tied the score 10 minutes into the second half.

Van Basten

Marco van Basten, the 29-year-old Dutch forward, changed his mind Friday and decided not to play in the World Cup because of the opposition of his club, AC Milan.

The three-time European player of the year, sidelined since May 1993 because of surgery on his right ankle, had said Thursday he intended to play.

"I did not expect such a hard reaction by Milan officials," Van Basten said at AC Milan's training camp. "However AC Milan's reasons are fair, and I have understood I must accept them. My heart told me to go (to the United States), but I had to listen to reason."

Dutch coach Dick Advocaat then picked Johnny Bosman for the team, filling the spot created Monday when Ruud Gullit walked out of camp.

Romania departs

Clutching a bunch of carnations and a novel, Romania captain Gheorghe Hagi joined his team Friday as it departed for the United States. Romania is the United States' third opponent in the first round. The group also includes Switzerland and Colombia.

"We are well-prepared and we want this to show," the 29-year-old forward said.

Dozens of young fans, some overcome with emotion, spurred on the players with cries of "Ole! Ole! We'll conquer the U-S-A!" on the tarmac of Bucharest's international airport.

"It will be difficult with Colombia, but we are confident," forward Ilie Dumitrescu said.


The president of the Bulgarian Football Union offered his resignation on Friday in Sofia after a dispute about the size of player bonuses.

Valentin Mihov, who was to head the Bulgarian delegation to the World Cup, promised that each player would get $100,000 if the team advances to the final. Other members of the governing body said the sum was too high. Players received $70,000 each for qualifying.


The police chief of Nigeria's host city, the Dallas suburb of Addison, is refusing a call to resign, saying remarks construed by a group of Nigerian nationals as racist were taken out of context.

Police Chief James McLaughlin was quoted in the suburban Dallas newspaper Metrocrest News as saying: "Nigerians are known for $2 million in petty fraud. We don't want to be overrun."

He said his remarks were taken out of context and that he cautioned restaurants to be careful with all credit cards during the World Cup.

"This was just an irresponsible reporting of a situation that didn't exist," McLaughlin said.

World Cup spokeswoman Chalese Stachowiak said the Nigerians had not made a formal request to change practice fields. Members of the Organization of Nigerian Nationals D-FW Inc. called for McLaughlin's resignation and the site switch.

"An apology or retraction is not even enough to salvage our image from the damage of Addison's insults," said Robert Elleh, president of the Organization of Nigerian Nationals D-FW.

Addison City Councilman Dick Wilke also was quoted as saying, "If 30 people come in (a restaurant) speaking Nigerian . . . the manager should call the police." Wilke did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press.

The Metrocrest News stands by its story, news editor Scott Stafford said.