SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Croatian players just won't forgive Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, who awarded Brazil a controversial penalty in the World Cup opener with the score 1-1.
Now, they are taking a gibe at his English. Or rather, his alleged lack of knowledge of the language.
"During the match I asked him something in English, he replied in Japanese," Croatia defender Vedran Corluka said.
"It is unbelievable that throughout the game, he communicated with us in Japanese," Corluka said. "For me it is unthinkable that a World Cup opener is refereed by a person who does not speak English or any other major international language."
Croatia lost 3-1 against Brazil on Thursday after a series of questionable decisions by Nishimura.
That left the Croats furious.
"After this game, it would be better if Brazil was immediately given the World Cup trophy and the rest of us go home," Corluka said. "It is now clear that no one can beat Brazil at this tournament."
— By Dusan Stojanovic — www.twitter.com/dusansto
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — As World Cup selfies go, a group of noisy Brazilian kids got some real good ones as they crowded Robin van Persie and snapped away on their cellphones at a relaxed Dutch team training session.
The red-shirted youngsters were allowed out onto the sideline of the practice field in Rio de Janeiro to watch the team of the moment work out Saturday, a day after its 5-1 hammering of reigning champion Spain thrilled World Cup watchers.
The children applauded and whooped from a few feet away as Van Persie, Arjen Robben and others came out for the session at local club Flamengo's practice facility in a southern neighborhood of Rio. That was good enough.
They got much more when Van Persie walked over, said "hi" and held up his hand for a high five with each of them. Out came the phones as the youngsters jubilantly snapped away and jostled for position to take a shot of themselves with the Manchester United striker.
Van Persie scored twice Friday in Salvador as the Netherlands crushed Spain in a stunning result on the second day of the World Cup. He and other players who started the game took it easy on a warm day in Rio on Saturday as they did some light jogging and stretched on the sideline.
Nearby, the kids were poised throughout with their cameras ever-ready. Snap snap.
— By Gerald Imray — www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP
SAO PAULO (AP) — Shirley Soares Silva made her second airport jaunt Saturday morning to pick up another friend arriving in Sao Paulo for the World Cup.
Born and raised in the city, she was impressed by how smoothly it went — and with the police presence.
"It was very easy, no traffic at all. It was nice. Impressive," she said. "They're so organized now. I saw a lot of police officers there. I feel very safe — safer than the regular time."
Silva, a 35-year-old systems analyst, loves meeting new people from across the globe.
So far, she has befriended fans from Croatia, Mexico and the U.S.
"I wish I could meet someone from Holland," she said. "They are doing great, huh?"
— By Janie McCauley — www.twitter.com/JanieMcCAP
SANTO ANDRE, Brazil (AP) — The German team has sent well wishes to Michael Schumacher, the seven-time Formula One champion who has been in a coma since a skiing accident in December.
Lukas Podolski, the Arsenal forward who hails from Cologne, near Schumacher's hometown, used the end of a news conference to send the message to Schumacher's family.
"I'd like to greet a good friend, who unfortunately is unable to be here. He is Michael Schumacher. He is just as crazy about football as all of us. We wish his family a lot of strength. If we win the title, that would be something that would make him happy," Podolski said.
Schumacher was a keen football player, often taking part in charity matches. Schumacher also is a fan of Cologne, Podolski's old club.
— By Nesha Starcevic
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Arjen Robben briefly lit up Twitter in the Netherlands on Friday night, not with his two great goals against Spain, but for his fumbling attempts to undo the laces on his right boot.
Midway through the first half of the Dutch demolition of the defending world champions in Salvador, with the match still scoreless, Robben lost his right boot in a tackle.
The Bayern Munich winger sat on the pitch fumbling with the laces while Spain's players politely waited. Eventually, the referee insisted they get on with the match, and play resumed with Robben still struggling to find a way back into his boot.
A faked picture swiftly began circulating online purporting to be a childlike diploma awarded to Robben for learning to tie his laces. It was dated June 13, 2014.
Robben took his footwear malfunction in stride.
"It's happened before," he told Dutch public broadcaster NOS. "He caught me full on the ankle and those shoes are so tight, with a double knot, that by the time you get it loose it's almost halftime."
Dutch fans were glad he finally untangled his laces — he scored two second-half goals in the stunning 5-1 victory.
— 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