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BRAZIL BEAT: Dutch TV host resigns role over tweet

June 19, 2014
Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Dutch television host and actress has quit as an ambassador for her country's national committee of the United Nations children's fund, UNICEF, after tweeting a photo that had been manipulated to appear to show two Colombian footballers snorting white lines off the pitch.

Nicolette van Dam had earlier apologized and removed the offending tweet after media in Colombia reacted angrily to the fake photo, which was clearly intended to link Colombia with cocaine use.

"Queridos Colombianos, there was no offense intended from my side," she tweeted. "Please accept my honest and sincere apologies. #RespectColombia."

UNICEF condemned the post Thursday in a statement out of New York, calling it "inappropriate and highly offensive."

The Dutch national committee of UNICEF said on its website that Van Dam had quit "out of respect for our work," adding that the reactions to her insensitive tweet Wednesday had made her position as ambassador "untenable."

Van Dam "had not realized that there was so much sensitivity in South America about this issue," the statement said.

— By Mike Corder —



SAO PAULO (AP) — Kyle Beckerman lived in Colorado 12 years ago when the U.S. held on to beat Portugal 3-2 in a group stage match at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. He remembers watching the game — sort of.

Beckerman fell asleep briefly, then awoke to see the halftime score with the Americans leading 3-0. The game was played in the middle of the night Colorado time.

Now, the 32-year-old American midfielder is preparing to face Portugal in a Group G match Sunday in Manaus.

Beckerman watched the '02 World Cup after being selected 11th overall by the Colorado Rapids in the Major League Soccer draft that year.

"I think I kind of dozed off because it was 2 or 3 in the morning," Beckerman recalled Thursday. "And I woke up and looked at the score and thought it was a typo, because it said 3-0 USA. When I realized it wasn't a typo, I jumped up and was going crazy for the team. It was all about holding on for the win, which they did."

— By Janie McCauley —



RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Robin van Persie took some family time at a training session Thursday, sitting with wife Bouchra and his two young children in the stands while his Netherlands teammates played a practice game.

The Manchester United striker, who has three goals in two games at the World Cup for the impressive Dutch, spent around 30 minutes with his family at the top of the steep concrete stands overlooking the Estadio Gavea field.

Down below, some of the Netherlands reserves trained, with Van Persie sometimes shouting out encouragement to his teammates.

Van Persie was one of a number of starters who took it easy, with winger Arjen Robben and midfielder Nigel de Jong also earning a break a day after a 3-2 win over Australia sealed a place in the last 16 for the Dutch.

Van Persie won't play in the Netherlands' Group B finale against Chile on Monday after receiving two yellow cards.

— By Gerald Imray —



SAO PAULO (AP) — For the throngs of English and Uruguayan fans streaming into Itaquerao Stadium on Thursday, there was only one topic of conversation: Luis Suarez.

The Uruguay star and Liverpool striker returned from injury for the critical match between the two countries. Sure enough, he scored both of Uruguay's goals in its 2-1 win.

Suarez, who scored a Premier League-leading 31 goals in England this past season, hasn't played since May 11. He underwent surgery on his left knee 11 days later.

"I'm worried about Suarez. I'm a Man U fan — he always causes us lots of trouble," said 35-year-old Londoner Sam Sandif before the game. "He's the player who can do some damage. I hope we kick him hard early."

As a Liverpool fan, 45-year-old Nick Staples said he was partial to Suarez. But he wasn't too concerned about the player's well-being on this day.

"I hope we beat them 5-0 and Suarez goes off the field in a fit of tears. Today, I couldn't give a (expletive) about Suarez," Staples said, smiling.

Maria Belen, 24-year-old Uruguay fan, was sporting fake eyelashes the color of the country's blue and white flag.

"Suarez knows how to play England," she said. "We have Suarez — he is everything."

— By Aron Heller —



SAO PAULO (AP) — Mario Sergio Conti, a well-known Brazilian syndicated columnist, couldn't believe his eyes Wednesday when he boarded a plane going from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo.

There, sitting in one of the seats, was none other than the coach of Brazil's national team, Felipe Scolari. Or so he thought.

The man was really Vladimir Palomo, a Scolari lookalike who did not reveal his real identity when he gave Conti an interview in which among other things he said he was surprised by Spain's early elimination from the World Cup, praised Neymar and said Italy, the Netherlands and Germany were Brazil's biggest rivals.

The interview was published Wednesday night by the websites of the influential Folha de S.Paulo and O Globo newspapers, which hours later took down the story when it was revealed Scolari was not on the plane and that he had spent the day in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

The two websites published corrections and apologies.

"Mario Sergio apologizes to Scolari, Palomo and its readers for the confusion," the Folha de S.Paulo news website said.

— By Stan Lehman



CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — You've got to feel for the football fans of Curitiba.

First, when the draw for the 2014 World Cup took place last year, the southern Brazilian city's allocation of games, with all due respect to the teams involved, wasn't as high-profile as others.

Well, at least the fans would get to see Spain, the defending champion.

They will still see Spain on Monday, but it will be a team that has already been eliminated from the tournament. Not only that, but Spain's opponent at the Arena da Baixada, Australia, also can't advance.

It's what is known in the parlance as a dead rubber, a game bereft of meaningful consequence.

The disappointment is evident throughout this well-manicured city that has been at the forefront of urban planning in Brazil and beyond.

One FIFA volunteer, who wouldn't give his name in line with the football governing body's scriptures, said everyone was "naturally upset" as Spain was the highlight in the city's World Cup allocation.

Curitiba's football fans have already seen one game, but the 0-0 draw between Iran and Nigeria was a fairly drab affair with few chances.

The other two matches in Curitiba are Ecuador-Honduras on Friday and Russia-Algeria next Thursday.

— By Pan Pylas —


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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