Sports Soccer

U.S. men's soccer team arrives in Brazil

USMNT turns focus to Ghana
Mexico team takes taxis to training sessions after bus won't start
Anheuser-Busch puts pressure on FIFA to address issue regarding Qatar

The U.S. team arrived in Sao Paulo on Monday, a week ahead of its World Cup opener with Ghana, and got right to work.

A police escort that included a helicopter hovering overhead guided the team on the morning trip from the airport to its downtown hotel. By early afternoon the team was at Sao Paulo FC's training facility for its first workout in Brazil.

"Now it's business," goalkeeper Tim Howard said.

"That was all really fun," he said of the team's training camp and three-game send-off series in the U.S. "But now we focus on Ghana, trying to figure out how to beat them."

As part of that focus on Ghana, U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann, advisor Berti Vogts and scout Matthias Hamann passed up the team flight Sunday to stay in Miami and attend Ghana's friendly with South Korea on Monday. They were expected in Brazil on Tuesday.

The U.S. will train Tuesday and Wednesday before playing a scrimmage with Belgium behind closed doors Thursday.

Cameroon's team also arrived in Brazil on Monday, a day later than expected. On Sunday the team refused to board its flight out of Africa until the government agreed to boost the World Cup bonuses it will pay the players.

"Everything has been resolved," Cameroon soccer federation President Joseph Owona said. "We have opted for transparency. There is no problem."

But they did tip?

Mexico's players were forced to get creative to get to their training sessions Monday after the team bus wouldn't start. Instead the team broke up into small groups and took taxis to their practice site, about a mile from their team hotel in Santos, less than an hour outside Sao Paulo.

Team captain Rafael Marquez tweeted out a photo of himself with teammates Alfredo Talavera, Hector Herrera and Marco Fabian in the taxi. The bus was repaired in time to take the team home.

No word on who paid the taxi fare.

Pressure grows on FIFA

Beer maker Anheuser-Busch, an official World Cup sponsor, made vocal its displeasure with news reports indicating that officials in Qatar may have made bribes and provided other favors to win the 2022 World Cup.

The Sunday Times of London has reported corrupt payments from Asian soccer official Mohamed bin Hammam were paid to delegates from Asia and Africa ahead of the 2010 vote that awarded the event to Qatar. The U.S. finished second in the balloting.

The brewer released a statement to the Associated Press in which it said it is "concerned about the situation," adding that "we expect FIFA to take all necessary steps to address the issue."

Other sponsors, including Visa and Adidas, have issued similar calls.

FIFA made its last public statement on the matter Saturday, saying it would let its ethics committee complete its work before making any comment.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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