The AP World Cup Digest at 10 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT). The supervisor of the World Cup desk in Rio de Janeiro is Simon Haydon. The desk can be reached at 0055 21 348 264 84.
RIO DE JANEIRO — The players’ union and football’s governing body agree on one thing in the wake of the heavy ban imposed on Luis Suarez for his third biting incident: the Uruguay and Liverpool striker needs help. Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero’s welcome despite his World Cup banishment. By Graham Dunbar. SENT: 591 words, photos.
BRASILIA, Brazil — Imagine having World Cup standouts Lionel Messi, Neymar, James Rodriguez and Arjen Robben all in the same team. After two weeks and 48 group-stage games in what is widely considered the best World Cup in a generation, there are already some players who have shone above the rest. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 777 words, photos.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — There’s no denying it, the thought of sudden World Cup elimination is on the minds of Luiz Felipe Scolari and his Brazil squad. The veteran coach wants to assure the people of the host nation, though, that nerves are nothing to be worried about. By Tales Azzoni. SENT: 500 words, photos.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Chile has injury concerns over key players Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal ahead of its second round match against Brazil at the World Cup on Saturday. Medel has a muscle injury and the central defender’s problem “is not a minor problem,” Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said. “If the game were today, he wouldn’t play.” By Frank Griffiths. SENT: 415 words, photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Colombia coach Jose Pekerman avoided questions about Luis Suarez, ducked any assessment of the striker’s punishment and didn’t mention his name ahead of Saturday’s World Cup second-round match against Uruguay. Pekerman, an Argentine who coached Argentina at the 2006 World Cup, repeated several times on Friday that Uruguay is a “top-notch opponent” — steering the focus away from Suarez and the Uruguayan forward’s lengthy ban from football. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 350 words, photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez quit FIFA’s strategic committee on Friday in protest at the ban football’s governing body imposed on his team’s star striker Luis Suarez for biting an Italian player. Tabarez used the mandatory pre-match media event to make an often rambling 15-minute speech with no mention of the game on Saturday, when Uruguay faces Colombia in the Round of 16. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 526 words, photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO — FIFA President Sepp Blatter believes Luis Suarez’s biting offense was “definitely not fair” — though he won’t say the player’s name. Blatter says “it is not fair what he has done” in a video interview on FIFA’s website. SENT: 340 words, photos.
SAO PAULO — No wonder the United States is having problems scoring at the World Cup: The Americans are hardly attacking. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is eager for the U.S. to create more chances in Tuesday’s second-round game against Belgium. By Ronald Blum. SENT: 724 words, photos.
— WITH: — SAO PAULO — WCUP-US-INJURIES. By Janie McCauley. SENT: 316 words, photos.
SAO PAULO — A police sniper was spooked by an armed man seen approaching Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other officials as they watched the June 12 opening game of the World Cup in Sao Paulo, law enforcement authorities said Friday. The man turned out to be a police officer. In an emailed statement and phone calls, the Sao Paulo state security secretariat that oversees security forces said at no point did the sniper ask for permission to fire on the suspect. That contradicted what the secretariat said earlier about the incident. SENT: 347 words.
RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil — While France coach Didier Deschamps has been pointedly playing down his team’s expectations at the World Cup, defender Bacary Sagna is now doing the exact opposite. France takes on Nigeria on Monday in their last 16 clash and Sagna is already thinking much further ahead. By Jerome Pugmire. SENT: 525 words, photos.
DENVER — Never mind that there were dozens of TV sets at the bar, many turned to pro wrestling, poker and bowling to provide background noise early one weekend morning. Jon Forget walked in, asked the bartender to change one set to soccer and got laughed out of the joint. Fast forward almost two decades and there’s no room to sit at the bar Forget runs these days. His concept for a soccer pub near downtown Denver is taking off, and a new generation of American-born soccer fans piled in by the hundreds Thursday to watch the U.S. advance to the World Cup knockout round despite a 1-0 loss to Germany. By Eddie Pells. SENT: 939 words, photos.
WCUP-COLOMBIA-ALCOHOL & CURFEWS
BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities in major Colombia cities are again imposing bans on alcohol and curfews for minors Saturday to discourage mayhem on a big World Cup game day. Some are even banning motorcycles. By Cesar Garcia. 388 words.
WCUP-CONSULTING THE GODS
RIO DE JANEIRO — Unlike her compatriots, Rita de Cassia Marciano doesn’t get too stressed out during Brazil’s World Cup matches. She knows Brazil is going to win its sixth title: The gods told her so. A “mae de santa,” or practitioner of the syncretic Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble, Marciano has prayed for a Brazil victory and she says the gods, known as “Orixas,” have acquiesced. By Jenny Barchfield. SENT: 450 words, photos.
WCUP-WHAT TO WATCH
RIO DE JANEIRO — The second round of the World Cup gets underway on Saturday with host nation Brazil facing Chile and Colombia taking on Uruguay in an all-South American race to reach the quarterfinals. Brazil will be the first to play, in Belo Horizonte, and faces a Chile squad that has lived up to its pre-tournament expectations as a very good team that could cause few surprises. By Trevor Huggins. SENT: 600 words, photos.
RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil — France’s latest public training session at the World Cup came to an eventful end when a fan sprinted onto the field Friday, prompting an almost slapstick scene as two burly security guards bumped into each other trying to catch him. The young fan dashed across the field and got between two security officials, who bounced off each other and fell to the ground amid raucous laughter from the crowd gathered at Botafogo’s Santa Cruz stadium. By Jerome Pugmire. SENT: 233 words, photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Former world player of the year Kaka said Friday that while Brazil’s current first choice strikers bear no comparison to former greats like Romario and Ronaldo, they are good enough to win Brazil’s sixth World Cup. SENT: 276 words, photos.
MOGI DAS CRUZES, Brazil — Despite a perfect record coming into the World Cup second round against the United States, a recurring groin injury to Vincent Kompany has cast a pall over the Belgian campaign. Any other player would have been relatively easy to replace. Yet in Kompany, Belgium coach Marc Wilmots has the essence of the qualities that got Belgium to the World Cup in the first place. Skills, power, vision and leadership. By Raf Casert. SENT: 577 words, photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Somehow, amid the chaos, Africa has made history at this World Cup. Look past the bonus disputes and strike threats, and a plane apparently landing in Brazil with bundles of cash to keep an unhappy squad playing, and it’s notable that Africa has two teams in the last 16. That, by African standards, is a rich return. By Gerald Imray. SENT: 835 words, photos.
BERLIN — FIFA has lifted Franz Beckenbauer’s ban from all football-related activity for failing to help an investigation of alleged corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes. SENT: 351 words, photos.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Brazil is bristling at what it calls “ridiculous” suggestions in Chilean media that English referee Howard Webb could favor the home team in the two nations’ round-of-16 match on Saturday. Brazil team spokesman Rodrigo Paiva said such suggestions disrespect the Brazilian people. SENT: 108 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Joedir Sancho Belmonte had a ticket to attend the famous final game of the 1950 World Cup between Brazil and Uruguay, but didn’t get to use it because he stayed home with his sick mother. But he saved the unused ticket for 64 years. And on Friday — in a swap with FIFA — he was given three tickets for the July 13 final at Rio’s Maracana in exchange for the tiny, crumpled memorabilia he stashed away. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 345 words.
FORTALEZA, Brazil — Arjen Robben just seems to get quicker and quicker. The 30-year-old Bayern Munich winger has out-sprinted every defender he has faced at the World Cup so far and is scoring goals, too. It is a far cry from the final four years ago, when he couldn’t find the net and possibly win the tournament for the Netherlands. By Mike Corder. SENT: 617 words, photos.
CAMPINAS, Brazil — Nigeria’s squad will travel for its World Cup second-round game against France as scheduled after canceling a training session amid reports of another pay dispute involving an African nation, the team spokesman said Friday. SENT: 405 words, photos.
ALGIERS, Algeria — Two people died in car accidents after Algeria’s capital exploded in fireworks and horn-honking joy after the national football team qualified for the Word Cup knockout stages for the first time. By Karim Kebir. SENT: 297 words, photos.
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — How is it that footballers are among the few who’ve not had much to say about the bite seen around the world, now punished with an appropriately tough ban? Luis Suarez’s peers surely can’t all be fearful that he might chomp them next if they voice an opinion about his penchant for man-flesh. Some of his teammates and his latest victim, Giorgio Chiellini, told their (conflicting) sides of this bizarre story. By John Leicester. SENT: 934 words, photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO — The international players’ union has questioned the severity and focus of FIFA’s punishment of Luis Suarez for biting an opponent at the World Cup, saying it “infringes his right to work” and doesn’t offer him the treatment he needs. FIFPro said Friday that “rehabilitation and serious treatment ... must be a part of any sanction” for the Uruguay and Liverpool forward. By Graham Dunbar. SENT: 340 words, photos.
__ RIO DE JANEIRO — WCUP-PAY DISPUTES. SENT.
__ SAO PAULO — WCUP-US TV RATINGS. SENT.
__ RIO DE JANEIRO — WCUP-COLOMBIANS ASSAULTED. SENT.
__ RIO DE JANEIRO — WCUP-TROPHY CEREMONY. SENT.
__ RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil — WCUP-FRANCE-SAKHO. SENT.
— UNDATED — WORLD CUP GLANCE. SENT.
— UNDATED — WCUP-ON THIS DAY. SENT.