World Cup musters stars of stage and pitch; Spain braces for soccer 'invasion'
Madrid — International Spanish opera star Placido Domingo has been persuaded to sing the theme song.
Spain's best-known living artist, Joan Miro, has been commissioned to produce the poster.
Top bullfighter El Cordobes is due to take part in a special series of bullfights.
Entertainers like Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones are being coaxed to perform. Henry Kissinger has been invited as a special guest.
What is it that has Spain in such uproar?
The World Cup soccer matches that will be played here in June are eclipsing every other event on the Spanish calendar - from the current court-martial of rebel officers to even the visit of Pope John Paul II in October. And the deadlocked European Security Conference is having to cede its hall to the soccer organizing committee.
Conscious that 1.3 billion TV viewers will see the soccer matches worldwide, the Spanish government wants to use this opportunity to boost its image domestically and internationally. More than 5,000 journalists are expected to cover what is planned as the biggest-ever World Cup competition and the costliest (over $200 million).
The kick-off will come June 13 with a ceremony in Barcelona. There will be 1 million flowers, 10,000 balloons, and 5,000 pigeons. Some 4,500 participants will form a closing tableau of Picasso's ''dove of peace.''
This will be followed by 52 matches in 14 different cities by the 24 teams. Nearly a month later, the finals will be held in Madrid, with the favorites including Spain, Brazil, West Germany, and the Soviet Union.
Until King Juan Carlos hands over to the winners the 18 carat gold trophy, valued at $4 million, Spain will grind to a halt. This country is accustomed to tourists; it plays host to about 40 million tourists each year. But it is expecting an unprecedented influx of fans this June, not all of whom are known to have the best records of behavior.
Three teams, for instance, are coming from the British Isles, representing Ireland, Scotland, and England. British fans have a bad reputation in Europe and apprehensive British consular authorities are preparing a statement of ''do's and don'ts.'' (Meanwhile, British fans are practicing Spanish phrases such as, ''Please Mr. Police Officer, will you let me go if I promise to behave myself?'')
Spain is mounting a massive security operation involving 30,000 troops, civil guards, and police. They have been given strict orders to proceed with extreme patience and caution, because in past World Cups there have been some unpleasant incidents. The government does not want similar incidents to occur this time.
Ninety percent of the 2.5 million tickets that have been printed are said to be sold already.
Spain's tourist industry is gearing up already, with hotels, restaurants, car rental agencies, and the national airline, Iberia, improving their services and premises. Prices are expected to rise with the influx.
Madrid has 50,000 hotel beds, all fully booked, and already some people are making arrangements to move in with relatives and let out their flats for enormous profits. The mayor of Madrid has organized a competition among restaurateurs to improve food quality and offer more variety.
The cup, meanwhile, has provided Madrid with a distinctive new landmark, a telecommunications tower that rises above the city, piercing the formerly undisturbed blue sky.
The souvenir industry has come out with everything from T-shirts to luxury goods decorated with the games mascot ''Naranjito,'' a smiling, leafy-topped orange footballer.
Ironically, the minister presiding over this all-male sports event is Soledad Becerril Bustamante, Spain's first female minister in over 40 years.