BRAZIL BEAT: Dutch fort gives Fortaleza its name

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Coach Louis van Gaal, left, briefs soccer players of the Netherlands during their official training session in Fortaleza, Brazil, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Netherlands will play Group A runner-up Mexico in the second round on Sunday in Fortaleza.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Ask anyone in Fortaleza for directions to the Dutch fort in the center of their city, and you'll most likely receive a blank stare.

As the Netherlands prepares to play Mexico on Sunday in northeast Brazil, residents appear entirely unaware of the small piece of history they share with the visiting European team.

The Dutch invaded this area nearly 400 years ago and built the fort that eventually gave the city its name. It was later passed to the Portuguese and today serves as a sleepy administrative building for the army, with only the outside grounds open to visitors.

Maicia Morais, a 19-year-old student hired by the city to work as a guide during the World Cup, takes a trickle of visitors around the site, many wandering over from the busy nearby central market and Catholic Cathedral.

"Yes, some Dutch visit here, but just a few. Most of the people who come here are from Uruguay or Colombia," she said.

"People here aren't very curious. Most think that the fort is Portuguese and very few know the city is named after it."

— By Derek Gatopoulos and Santiago Torrado — —



RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — British police say an England fan had part of his ear bitten off by a compatriot during a World Cup match in Brazil.

Officers have been unable to find the perpetrator of the attack during the June 19 game against Uruguay in Sao Paolo.

Chief superintendent Rachel Barber, who led the British operation in Brazil, says "during the course of our pursuit of the assailant, we located and interviewed several witnesses ... but unfortunately they were unable to give us a name for the alleged attacker."

Barber says "efforts are ongoing to identify the suspect and bring him to justice either in the U.K. or, if possible, back in Brazil where the offense occurred."

The England team was eliminated at the group stage, leaving after Tuesday's match against Costa Rica.



RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil (AP) — Good morning. Pass the pasta, please.

France's lunchtime kickoff against Nigeria is going to shake up the players' eating habits, and that's not to everyone's liking.

France played its three Group E games in the late afternoon, but Monday's round of 16 match in Brasilia kicks off at 1 p.m. This means players have to eat the equivalent of their lunch for breakfast.

"That means eating pasta from 9 o'clock in the morning," France defender Bacary Sagna said.

Munching on spaghetti carbonara that early might prove an arduous task for some.

Sagna, however, is used to it from his playing days with Arsenal in England, where lunchtime kickoffs are fairly common and where most games start at 3 p.m.

Games in the French league traditionally start at 8 p.m., so the France-based players on the team — like Paris Saint-Germain pair Blaise Matuidi and Lucas Digne — may find it hard to stomach.

— By Jerome Pugmire —



BERLIN (AP) — A Berlin court has upheld a woman's right to peace and quiet after 10 p.m. and ordered her neighbors to keep their doors and windows closed when they watch late Germany matches.

The court in the German capital's Neukoelln district ruled this week that there must be no "noise, particularly in the form of collective singing, bawling and loud shouting" from the neighbors or visitors on their balcony after 10 p.m. when Germany plays. A repeat offense could incur a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($340,000).

Berliners, like other Germans, are supposed at least in theory to keep the noise down between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Because of the time difference with Brazil, many of this year's World Cup matches have kicked off at 9 p.m. or later in Germany. Organizers of outdoor viewing events were allowed to apply for exemptions from the noise rules.



RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — World Cup tourists using public buses in Recife are in for the ride of their lives.

The No. 503 bus driven by Uiraquitan Batista is completely covered in Brazilian flags and yellow and green paraphernalia. It also blasts the forro music popular at the festivities going on during the month of June in Northeast Brazil.

Wearing a top hat with the Brazil flag, Batista drives around the city hopping up and down in his seat as he dances to the upbeat music he plays and welcomes passengers with an ear-to-ear smile.

Soon passengers are chanting along with the forro music and dancing together inside the bus, sometimes with Batista's colleague, bus fare collector Eduardo Martins, who wear a green and yellow wig.

Though the World Cup inspired Batista to decorate his bus in support of the Brazil national team, this 44-year-old bus driver always had a taste for festive decorations.

"It's a way of identifying yourself with the passengers and saying I'm doing what I like," said Batista, who has been a bus driver for 20 years and has been decorating his workspace for 12.

"I show it at every party: Saint John, Christmas, New Year's and Carnival," he added.

For commuters used to moody drivers and endless traffic, the atmosphere Batista created makes the ride a pleasure rather than a daily nightmare.

"This way we go to work lively," said Maria Antonia Chaves, who occasionally is lucky enough to hop onto Batista's bus.

"I love it. I love forro, and I love his good mood," she added.

Batista and Martins took an entire day to decorate the bus with flags, banners and other objects, which were paid for by their bus company. In fact, the company liked Batista's idea so much that it asked him to alternate routes every weekday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. to benefit passengers in all parts of Recife.

"It's a therapy for passengers. It brings them happiness, joy. Everyone who gets on likes it, takes pictures, films it and shares it on social media," Martins said proudly.

— By Renata Brito —



BERLIN (AP) — For Cologne's Gaffel brewery, it seemed like a good idea — incorporating the flags of the 32 nations participating in the World Cup onto the label of its Koelsch beer.

But the promotion got it into trouble with Iran, whose embassy objected to a beer bottle carrying the flag of the Muslim nation, where the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in line with Islam's teachings.

Gaffel spokesman Michael Busemann said Friday that the brewery hadn't considered it might be a problem and removed the Iran-flagged beer about three weeks ago from its production line after it received a letter from the embassy.

He says it was a simple decision: "We didn't want to offend any religious feelings."


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