Magazine article Newsweek International

Mini-Mu, Football Star

Magazine article Newsweek International

Mini-Mu, Football Star

Article excerpt

Think of him as Muammar Kaddafi, Soccer Dad. Sure, the oil-rich Libyan dictator has been accused of everything from concocting chemical weapons to blowing up an American airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. But that doesn't mean he's not a proud father. And if his boy wants to play soccer, then his boy's going to get the best coaching that money can buy. Want to play in the big leagues? Go for it, son!

So it is that Saadi Muammar Kaddafi, a 26-year-old striker of average talent, is surrounded by some of the biggest names in international sports. Among his friends is the convalescing Brazilian superstar Ronaldo, who's given him his shoes for luck. Saadi's been advised by Argentina's troubled demigod, Diego Maradona. Sprinter Ben Johnson, presumably sans steroids, is his personal trainer. And former England coach Terry Venables is in talks with the Libyan national team, on which Saadi plays.

Dad seems happy to pay. Johnson gets a reported $120,000 a month. The British press claims Venables has been offered almost $2 million. And there's such publicity surrounding Saadi that European teams are looking at him as a crowd draw. Malta's Birkirkara FC claims to have signed him already to play in upcoming Champtons League matches. But Perugia is still in the running--even though a Libya-Perugia game last summer ended in a riot.

Nobody not on his payroll seriously claims Saadi's got the talent to play in the big leagues. Probably not even Muammar. …

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