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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
How to beat the sex ban
Japanese fans of the Italy team scream for autographs in Sendai as police try to contain them
Sex appeal: Italy are one of the most popular teams

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Coach Giovanni Trapattoni's sex ban prohibiting visits from the girlfriends and wives of Italy's players has already been breached.

Rita Montella, wife of AS Roma striker Vincenzo, was reportedly found inside the heavily protected team hotel before the squad left for their crunch third phase game against Mexico.

She was accredited as a "celebrity reporter" with an Italian TV network and was carrying a hand-held camera.

Soft-hearted Trap is said to have given her a choice:

If you're here as a reporter get out now;

If you're here as Vincenzo's wife, here's his room number.


Pippo's phone faux pas

Striker Pippo Inzaghi is regretting answering his mobile phone before the match against Croatia.

Filippo Inzaghi (left) and first-choice frontman Christian Vieri
Inzaghi blew his own chances of a World Cup start
He took a call from a top Italian TV journalist urgently looking for the "mister", Trap.

Pippo dutifully passed on the message to his boss.

Trap returned the call - and was tipped off about Croatia's attacking formation, innocently revealed to the Italian reporter during an interview with a Croatia squad member.

Trap reshuffled his side, opting for a more defensive line-up - and axed poor Pippo.


Return to Sendai

Italy's players may still be adamantly refusing to sing their national anthem at match line-ups, but a new song is serving to lighten the mood at the "Azzurri" press camp

The verse was coined by the small British contingent as an ironic response to Italian complaints about English referee Graham Poll disallowing two Italy goals against Croatia.

And it follows the announcement that the squad would return to its Sendai base if the team were to make the final in Tokyo.

"Return to Sendai" was first heard coming from the hotel lifts as the high-spirited three-strong Brit pack adapted the Elvis Presley classic Return to Sender:

    Wrote a letter to Sepp Blatter
    Put it in his sack
    The very next morning
    He sent my letter back
    He wrote upon it:

    Return to Sendai
    Address unknown
    Viva El Messico
    You're going to Rome.


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

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