- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Is it “Let’s Go” or “Les Bleus”? It’s getting hard to tell in a Bohemian neighborhood of Brazil’s largest city where foreigners have taken over the streets to improvise a big outdoor festival of fans.

“Everyone out here speaks everything but Portuguese,” said Matt Baca, a 31-year-old tourist from Los Angeles, sipping beer with his two friends while watching a game Sunday. “This area is awesome. Downtown is a little rougher.”

Young international tourists arriving for World Cup celebrations in Sao Paulo have been asking local friends or cab drivers their suggestions for places to watch the games and enjoy the nightlife. The trendy neighborhood of Vila Madalena has been the answer so far.

The neighborhood in Sao Paulo’s west side is known for its happy hours in the Brazilian pubs known as botecos. But the streets are buzzing a lot more than usual with people selling beers on the corners as if they were Popsicles and some even grilling hotdogs from the back of their SUVs.

Knowing this would happen here, a 27-year-old Brazilian, who until recently had been working as a barista in Australia, designed scarves of each country and is selling them in the street of Aspicuelta that’s dotted with bars and restaurants.

“Business is good,” Luis Lobo said. “Italy and Mexico sold out.”

- By Adriana Gomez Licon - www.twitter.com/agomezlicon



RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - A Dutch newspaper says that Arjen Robben ran faster than any footballer recorded on his way to scoring the final goal in the Netherlands’ 5-1 drubbing of Spain at the World Cup.

De Telegraaf says it clocked winger Robben at 37 kilometers per hour (22.9 mph) in his blistering breakaway for his second goal in Salvador on Friday. According to the paper, that broke the previous known speed record of 35.7 kph (21.8 mph) by Arsenal’s Theo Walcott.

Olympic champion Usain Bolt reportedly reached a top speed of 44.72 kph (27.7 mph) when he set the 100-meter world record of 9.58 seconds.

- By Gerald Imray - www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP


TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) - Brazil’s ministry of justice says five Argentine citizens have been prohibited from entering the country because of their alleged involvement with fan violence.

The justice ministry said in a statement Sunday that two were turned back by federal police in Rio de Janeiro, two by authorities in Foz do Iguacu in southern Brazil and one by officials in Sao Paulo.

The ministry said fans identified as “members of fan groups involved in fan violence in stadiums” will not be allowed in the country during the World Cup.

Immigration authorities throughout the country are monitoring their entrances based on databases with information from authorities from several countries.

- By Tales Azzoni - www.twitter.com/tazzoni



SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) - Angered by published photos showing them bathing nude at their training complex’s swimming pool, Croatian players are refusing to speak to World Cup reporters.

“They are determined that they will not speak to the media,” Croatia coach Niko Kovac said. “I don’t know if this will last until tomorrow, or until we are at the World Cup.”

The pictures from paparazzo photographers were published by Croatian media.

“I can’t force them to change their minds after what you have done to them and their families,” Kovac said.

A news conference scheduled for Monday at the Croatian camp near Salvador was canceled.

- By Dusan Stojanovic - www.twitter.com/dusansto



NATAL, Brazil (AP) - Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan was sporting a stylish hairstyle before his team’s matchup against the U.S., with a blonde No. 3 dyed into the right side of his head.

Coincidentally, Ghana will be trying to beat the Americans for the third straight time at the World Cup on Monday, following victories in 2006 and 2010 that sent the U.S. home.

Gyan has worn the No. 3 on his head before. It’s also his jersey number, which had been handed over to him by older brother Baffour, a former national team player and his role model.

“It’s my favorite number,” Gyan said. “It’s a powerful number.”

- Jim Vertuno - www.twitter.com/JimVertuno



BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) - When a player wins a man of the match award at the World Cup, he’s usually showered with a mixture of adulation and congratulations by the media.

Not so Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland’s squat playmaker.

“Do you really think you deserved to be man of the match?” was the first question directed to Shaqiri in his news conference after Switzerland’s 2-1 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

Shaqiri looked taken aback at first. He then let out a little laugh.

“That’s an excellent joke,” he said.

But the questioner, a member of the German press, wasn’t laughing.

“I think I did a great match today,” Shaqiri added. “Others had to decide on this award. I am very proud to receive the award.”

It was hardly one of Shaqiri’s best displays, but the same can be said of the rest of his Switzerland teammates after a sub-par performance against Ecuador that was rescued by substitute Haris Seferovic’s last-gasp winner.

- By Steve Douglas - www.twitter.com/sdouglas80



SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) - The fact that Miroslav Klose could become the top all-time scorer in World Cup history won’t influence Germany coach Joachim Loew.

Klose, the 36-year-old forward, has 14 goals in 19 World Cup matches, just one short of Brazil’s Ronaldo.

But Loew said that this does not automatically mean he would play Klose in Brazil.

The record “is very important for the team and him personally,” Loew said. “But as a coach, those statistics are secondary and do not mean he would be included in the lineups.”

Klose is the only classic forward on the German team. But Loew has been favoring a “false nine” system, with attacking midfielders taking on the role of scorers, in the likes of Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze.

- By Dusan Stojanovic - www.twitter.com/dusansto



RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - First there was planking and Tebowing. Now a spectacular World Cup goal has spawned “Persieing.”

In what is sure to be one of the goals of the tournament in Brazil, Netherlands captain Robin van Persie flung himself at a long pass and headed the ball over Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas to level the score at 1-1 just before halftime of the teams’ Group B opener. The Netherlands went on to win 5-1 in one of the shocks of the tournament so far.

The flying Dutchman’s momentum sent him sliding on his belly across the damp turf of Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova, his arms stretched out to either side.

Fans wasted no time photographing themselves - and even their babies - in similar poses and posting them online, giving birth to the “Persieing” meme.

- By Mike Corder - www.twitter.com/mikecorder


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: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014

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