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BRAZIL BEAT: France coach Deschamps muddling through technology, language barrier

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - France coach Didier Deschamps looked perplexed, a crease growing bigger on his forehead as he listened to questions in English during his news conference previewing Sunday's match against Honduras.

Clearly irritated, one English reporter suggested Deschamps use the headphones that provide simultaneous translation.

"Didier, I'll try not to sound like an angry Englishman here," the reporter barked. "But given that Euro 2012 was marred by clashes with the media and the French team, might it be an idea to use the headphones and listen to international questions, so that you don't offend the international media?"

Staring blankly ahead, Deschamps did not seem sure what he was being reproached for, although he understood the subject matter. He slid the headphones on, fidgeted with the button on the side, and then took them off again.

"I rest my case," the exasperated English journalist said from the back of the room.

"Does he want me to put them on?" a confused Deschamps mumbled as he glanced across to the France team's press officer.

Deschamps, who played one season in the English Premier League for Chelsea in the 1999-2000 season, then kept talking to himself as he struggled with the headphones.

"Is that OK? ... Oh, there's no sound," Deschamps went on, even talking over another journalist trying to ask a question in English.

Then, Deschamps gave up.

"Doesn't work, ah, new technology," he said, putting the headphones down.

— By Jerome Pugmire —



TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — No meat skewers allowed. Brazilian authorities are cracking down on unauthorized sales near World Cup stadiums.

Police in the host city of Salvador said Saturday they seized thousands of bottles and cans of beverages from brands not sponsoring the World Cup.

Authorities said the beverages — including beer, water and soft drinks — were being illegally sold near the stadium where the Netherlands beat Spain 5-1 on Friday, in an area where only FIFA-sponsored products can be peddled.

Police in the northeastern city said in a statement that 269 hats "illegally using FIFA brands" also were seized, along with pamphlets promoting a local concert, three sound systems, a knife-like weapon and even 100 meat skewers that were on sale near the Arena Fonte Nova stadium.

— By Tales Azzoni —


PORTO ALEGRE (AP) — As the French team held its final training session inside, frantic efforts were still being made to complete work at the Estadio Beira-Rio.

With less than 24 hours to go before the stadium hosts its first World Cup match, workers were strengthening the perimeter fence, installing sinks in temporary bathrooms and laying turf Saturday. Piles of bricks and wood lay around outside the 49,989 capacity stadium, along with huge puddles so deep that taxi drivers refused to ford them.

Inside the stadium, work did appear to be complete. The grass looked lush.

Despite the ongoing construction, Porto Alegre spokeswoman Nathalia Ely said there was nothing to worry about.

"Everything is ready," she said.

Concerns about the state of the 12 stadiums have dogged organizers in the run-up.

Last month, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said the Estadio Beira-Rio was one of three venues he was worried about, and that organizers shouldn't "waste a minute" in working on it. Construction on the stadium was slowed because of a dispute over who would pay for the temporary facilities required by FIFA.

— By Chris Brummitt —



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 travelling media circus loaded onto the bus to pick up their gear at the hotel before the 400-kilometre 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 colours 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 —


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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