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BRAZIL BEAT: A Fluminense fan in a Flamengo shop?

June 14, 2014
Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Jonathan Arguero is a passionate fan of Buenos Aires club River Plate, which means he despises the city's other big team — archrival Boca Juniors.

He couldn't believe what he saw the other day in Rio, where he's arrived to watch Sunday's World Cup match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Browsing in a shop run by Rio club Flamengo, he spotted a fan of archrival Fluminense wearing — of all things — a Fluminense shirt.

"If a Boca fan arrived in a River Plate store wearing a Boca shirt, he might not leave alive," Arguero said. "I am not exaggerating. The animosity is very great. I'm using measured words here."

Brazil loves football, though attendance is poor for club matches, averaging about 15,000 — less than Major League Soccer in the U.S. One reason is that newly built and remodeled stadiums are pricing out the working-class fans. Tickets for a club match at Maracana can start at $40-50.

About 50,000 Argentines are expected in Rio for Sunday's match — most without tickets.

Some of them could be members of Argentina's hooligan gangs, called "Barras Bravas" in Spanish. Brazilian and Argentine police are trying to stop them at the border. Back home, almost every Argentine club match is tinged with some violence, in or around the stadium.

Police trying to control a rowdy crowd of Argentine fans used pepper spray to keep them from blocking a main road running in front of Rio's Copacabana beach Saturday.

— By Stephen Wade — Twitter http//


SAO PAULO (AP) — A group of about three dozen journalists from Iran are on their own World Cup road trip — following the team around the country on a bus organized by the Iranian football federation. After the team's final training session in Sao Paulo, the traveling media circus loaded onto the bus to pick up their gear at the hotel before the 400-kilometer journey south to Curitiba.

It's clear that the shared adventure — they all also flew in from Teheran together — had bonded the gang. Some immediately took off their shoes, placing their feet atop the seats ahead. Others leaned back in their chairs, laughing. Every few minutes someone broke into song in Farsi.

"We are a big family," said Shervin Gilani, who freelances for the Teheran Times and the Mehr News Agency. "We all hope that Iran will advance. But also all know that will be a big surprise."

— By Aron Heller — Twitter http//



RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — OK, so we all know yellow and green is good at the World Cup in Brazil. Blue and white stripes? Whoa. Not so much.

One brave cab driver was proudly sporting Argentina's team shirt as he whizzed through the Saturday morning traffic in downtown Rio de Janeiro. On every side of him there were quizzical looks, normally followed by a hoot or a stern shout in response to the colors of Brazil's fierce South American rival. Sometimes a wave of a hand. No, no, no!

Then, just as it felt he was all alone, a car pulled up next to him full of fellow supporters of the country of Lionel Messi. Their hoot was accompanied by cheers and thumbs-up this time as they pressed their blue and white Argentina flag up against the window. Seems you'll always find some friends at the World Cup.

— By Gerald Imray —



SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Croatian players just won't forgive Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, who awarded Brazil a controversial penalty in the World Cup opener with the score 1-1.

Now, they are taking a gibe at his English. Or rather, his alleged lack of knowledge of the language.

"During the match I asked him something in English, he replied in Japanese," Croatia defender Vedran Corluka said.

"It is unbelievable that throughout the game, he communicated with us in Japanese," Corluka said. "For me it is unthinkable that a World Cup opener is refereed by a person who does not speak English or any other major international language."

Croatia lost 3-1 against Brazil on Thursday after a series of questionable decisions by Nishimura.

That left the Croats furious.

"After this game, it would be better if Brazil was immediately given the World Cup trophy and the rest of us go home," Corluka said. "It is now clear that no one can beat Brazil at this tournament."

— By Dusan Stojanovic —



RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — As World Cup selfies go, a group of noisy Brazilian kids got some real good ones as they crowded Robin van Persie and snapped away on their cellphones at a relaxed Dutch team training session.

The red-shirted youngsters were allowed out onto the sideline of the practice field in Rio de Janeiro to watch the team of the moment work out Saturday, a day after its 5-1 hammering of reigning champion Spain thrilled World Cup watchers.

The children applauded and whooped from a few feet away as Van Persie, Arjen Robben and others came out for the session at local club Flamengo's practice facility in a southern neighborhood of Rio. That was good enough.

They got much more when Van Persie walked over, said "hi" and held up his hand for a high five with each of them. Out came the phones as the youngsters jubilantly snapped away and jostled for position to take a shot of themselves with the Manchester United striker.

Van Persie scored twice Friday in Salvador as the Netherlands crushed Spain in a stunning result on the second day of the World Cup. He and other players who started the game took it easy on a warm day in Rio on Saturday as they did some light jogging and stretched on the sideline.

Nearby, the kids were poised throughout with their cameras ever-ready. Snap snap.

— By Gerald Imray —


Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter:



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