Sports Soccer

World Cup: Neymar of Brazil runs afoul of FIFA with headphones choice

Brazilian superstar Neymar wears Beats to talk to media at World Cup, to dismay of FIFA who signed with Sony

Superstar Brazilian striker Neymar has gotten just one caution from a referee in the World Cup but now he's in danger of being red-carded by FIFA.

Neymar drew the ire of soccer's global governing body by wearing Beats by Dre headphones to a news conference this week. The brand was banned from the World Cup, when organizers signed an exclusive deal with Sony.

Earlier in the tournament, Neymar took off his shirt on the field after a game to reveal the elastic band of his underwear, which was also made by a non-World Cup sponsor.

Neymar was featured in a Beats advertisement before the World Cup, leaving him to choose between personal sponsors and those who have struck a deal with FIFA. Of course there is a third option: Neymar could simply have come to the news conference without any headphones, which would have had the added benefit of making it easier to hear the questions.

FIFA has shown it has little patience with players who flout its rules relating to brand sponsors. Danish international Nicklas Bendtner was fined the equivalent of $137,000 and banned for one match after showing off a pair of unapproved underwear during the 2012 Euros.

Flu symptoms strike German team

Seven German players, including high scorer Thomas Mueller, will go into Friday's quarterfinal with France dealing with flu-like symptoms, Coach Joachim Loew said Thursday.

Loew described the players as "slightly ill" and battling "sore throats."

"It's not that bad at the moment," he added. "I don't want to over-dramatize it."

Loew blamed the outbreak on a hectic travel schedule that has seen Germany play in different climates and conditions, from the northeast city of Recife, where the Germans were greeted by torrential rains and flooding, to Porto Alegre, on Brazil's southern edge.

"We're constantly having to travel between different climates," Loew said. "It's understandable that the guys get a little bit under the weather and that it starts to spread."

Police probe FIFA tie to scalping

Brazilian police investigating ticket scalping at the World Cup believe a FIFA official may be a source for tickets being resold for many times the face value.

Police inspector Fabio Barucke said the person under investigation was staying at Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Palace Hotel, where some of FIFA's high-ranked officials and MATCH Hospitality — which holds the rights to the World Cup hospitality program — are based.

Barucke confirmed 11 people were arrested earlier in the week, including Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, an Algerian man previously thought to be the ringleader of the scalping operation. Barucke said more arrests are possible.

Barucke described Fofana, who had free access to FIFA-restricted areas including the hotel, as a "middleman" and suggested the ticket source was "someone higher up" the chain. He did not give details of the person under investigation.

"He [Lamine Fofana] has tickets from hospitality, from MATCH, and he was close friends with someone from FIFA who was in the middle of that negotiation — who was helping out with that negotiation," he said. "We were able to identify there is the participation of someone from FIFA."

Barucke has said the scalping ring made $455,000 per game and that it used three Rio de Janeiro travel agencies "that sold the tickets at well above their face value."

Reselling tickets at more than face value is illegal in Brazil.

Overpass collapses

An overpass under construction collapsed Thursday in the World Cup host city of Belo Horizonte, killing at least two people and trapping a commuter bus, two construction trucks and a car.

At least 22 people were reported injured. The overpass was part of an infrastructure project that wasn't completed in time for the World Cup.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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