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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Berlusconi warns Italy
Italy captain Paolo Maldini and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Maldini is told to bring the World Cup back to Italy
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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has wished the national team well in the World Cup - and told them not to return unless they win the trophy.

The media magnate and AC Milan owner urged the players to "give all they have because the entire country is following you with pride."

Berlusconi said: "I am a dictator, according to some newspapers. So, my message is: go to the Far East and win.

Open Quote
Never forget that the team you are to represent in Japan and Korea is called Italy
Close Quote
Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi

"If you lose, chains await you and we shall put you in jail. If you come back without the Cup, you will be hit by 58m Italians."

The Italian premier also offered coach Giovanni Trapattoni some advice.

He added: "Let your players practice many penalties and decide who must take them beforehand."

Berlusconi was referring to the fact the Italy lost the 1994 final to Brazil following a penalty shoot-out.

President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi told the team at a separate reception that he still recalled the names of Italian players who won the World Cup in 1934, when he was 13.

Ciampi said: "My first World Cup was in 1934 [played in Italy and won by Italy], I was just over 13 and I lived through that World Cup with great enthusiasm.

"I do not want to be your coach, but think only about the match being played on the field.

"Give everything you have when you are on the pitch, also considering that physical and mental energies are renewed very quickly when you are winning, they return as if by miracle.

"Never forget that the team you are to represent in Japan and Korea is called Italy and has a tricolour symbol on the shirts."

Team captain Paolo Maldini presented Ciampi and Berlusconi with the blue national team jerseys, complete with their names printed on them.

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GROUP G
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MEXICO 3 +2 7
ITALY 3 +1 4
CROATIA 3 -1 3
ECUADOR 3 -2 3

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