Soccer may have found its niche.

It has been long scorned among traditionalists in the United States as a game too dull to accept, but some enthusiastic Germans may have given Americans a new sport.

German women, actually.

Playing topless.

And suddenly, Americans are paying attention!

As an "appetizer" for last night's Euro 2008 games in Vienna, Austria and Germany fielded women's soccer teams with six on a side.

Austria won, 10-5, over their larger neighbor, but at the end of the game, they had to forego the traditional shirt swap. The reason? Both teams were clad only in thongs.

Judging from the pictures (which men worldwide were poring over last night) the "uniforms" were very tasteful.

The thongs were accompanied by white paint that looked like shorts, and everything above the waist was painted to look like a jersey.

Organized by an online chat room, the two teams took the field with a mostly male audience (jeez, what a shocker!) and dozens of writers and photographers who considered it their professional obligation to cover the event.

"I hope our men will take heart from that. We played pretty hard, we even had some injuries - like I, for example, broke my toenail," said Doris Fastenmeir, a bank employee and one of the competitors.

The Germans took defeat sportingly and joined their opponents for dancing at a beach club along the Danube.

"I was supposed to hold the balls but I really have no idea how to do that," said German goalkeeper Jana Bach. "Maybe it is because I am not all that much into soccer. I am more into shoes, to be honest."

Maybe this is the sport of the future.

History lesson. Arnold Palmer won his only U.S. Open in 1960 at Cherry Hills in Denver.

But Arnie lost three times in playoffs for the Open title, falling to Jack Nicklaus at Oakmont, Pa., in 1962; to Julius Boros in a three-way playoff that also included Jacky Cupit at Brookline, Mass., in 1963; and to Billy Casper at Olympic in San Francisco in 1966.

Finally. Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday told reporters that Spygate was dead.

Pennsylvania's senior senator also learned that the Phillies had won the 1980 World Series, the Eagles had lost the Super Bowl after the 2004 season and that Julius Erving, Randall Cunningham and Pete Rose had all retired.

This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.
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