CUIABA, Brazil (AP) — Forget banners. Many Japanese fans were waving bright blue garbage bags at the group stage finale against Colombia.
The Japanese have touched spectators around the world by cleaning up their trash after every match at the World Cup.
Japan fan Mikio Tomita was brandishing a trash bag signed by his work colleagues back home and bearing the message: "Go for it!"
For the first time at this year's tournament, the fans of Japan's Blue Samurai were outnumbered by the opposition — with Cuiaba's Pantanel Stadium a sea of the yellow and red of Brazil's neighbor, Columbia. But they were as spirited as ever — dressed as enormous eggs, Daruma good luck-charm dolls and shaggy-bearded shamans.
— By Joji Sakurai — www.twitter.com/jojisakurai
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The French Football Federation has apologized to the players' wives and families for a hotel mix-up when they arrived in Rio for Wednesday's Group E match against Ecuador.
The FFF said in a statement Tuesday that it "fully assumes" responsibility for "the inconvenience caused" when they had to change hotels after getting into town Monday.
The FFF denied an earlier report from Canal Plus television channel saying the wives had demanded better accommodations when they arrived, because they were reportedly unhappy with the four-star hotel allocated to them before being switched to a five-star hotel on the famed Copacabana beach.
The FFF blamed the problem on "a malfunction between the FFF and the agency in charge of accommodation."
Wives and players will meet up after Wednesday's match.
HOLYFIELD WEIGHS IN
NATAL, Brazil (AP) — It was inevitable: Evander Holyfield has weighed in on Luis Suarez's bite.
Television replays appeared to show the Uruguay striker digging his teeth into the shoulder of Italy's Giorgio Chiellini late in their group stage finale. About a minute later, Uruguay scored the go-ahead goal in the 81st minute and went on to win 1-0 to advance at the World Cup, eliminating the Italians.
It may be the most famous sports bite since Mike Tyson chomped on Holyfield's ear during their 1997 title fight.
Holyfield, who has since made up with Tyson, tweeted Tuesday: "I guess any part of the body is up for eating."
Tyson hadn't chimed in — yet.
OLINDA, Brazil (AP) — Atop a hill offering panoramic views of the World Cup city of Recife is the nearly 500-year-old coastal town Olinda.
Fans such as Ricky Jaramillo of Chicago have found its narrow, cobblestone streets and colonial Portuguese and Dutch architecture a pleasant alternative to the dense clusters of high-rises about 10 miles to the south.
"The views are amazing, from the skyline of Recife to the ocean," said Jaramillo, a Mexican-American who attended Mexico's victory over Croatia in Recife's Arena Pernambuco with his father. "The cobblestone streets, the old houses and churches are amazing, the history behind them."
Jamarillo, who stayed at an oceanside hotel within walking distance of Olinda's historic center, was one of numerous Mexican fans who chose to stay in the area — apparent by the omnipresent green jerseys worn by those wandering the hillside streets or strolling along the seawall below.
This week, American and German fans have begun trickling into Olinda before Thursday's pivotal Group G match between the two countries at the Arena Pernambuco, which is about an hour's drive, depending on traffic.
Olinda was founded in 1535 by Portuguese explorer Duarte Coelho. The Portuguese word "linda" means beautiful. According to the city's tourism office, Coelho uttered something akin to, "Oh — beautiful place to found a village," when he came upon the hill where Olinda now sits.
The lumber and sugarcane industries that flourished in the area made Olinda one of the most important colonial outposts in all of Brazil. In 1631, the Dutch invaded and began an occupation that lasted 24 years before the Portuguese regained control.
The charming cobblestone streets are lined with mostly one or two story, stucco-sided buildings, often painted in bright color schemes such as cornflower blue with yellow trim. Some are sided by painted tiles. Atop the hill is a public plaza filled with artists and vendors of local food.
There is also a lighthouse, a convent and the "Igreja da Se," or Cathedral of the See, one of several churches dating to the late 1500s in the immediate area.
Lower on the hillside is the Monastery of St. Benedict, a Baroque church dating to 1582 with an ornate, 46-foot-tall altar carved from about 119,000 pounds of wood and adorned with nearly 62 pounds of gold leaf.
— By Brett Martel — www.twitter.com/brettmartel
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — After being unceremoniously booted from World Cup competition, Spain's national team had a tough ride home when the plane most players were traveling in was hit by lightning just before it landed in Madrid.
A spokeswoman for airline Iberia SA said the lightning strike Tuesday caused no damage and that the jet landed normally without any injuries to those aboard. She spoke on condition of anonymity because of company policy preventing her from being identified.
The weather around Madrid was stormy when the lightning strike happened. Experts say commercial jets tend to be hit by lightning about once a year.
After losing in Brazil to the Netherlands and Chile, Spain finished its World Cup appearance with a 3-0 win against Australia on Monday.
Twenty of the team's 23-member squad came home on the plane hit by lightning, accompanied by team staff and journalists.
Spanish media said the players left the airport in vans without speaking to the media and didn't go close to about 200 fans who showed up to welcome them.
— By Alan Clendenning — www.twitter.com/alanclendenning
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Some sarcastic England fans had their 15 seconds of fame during Tuesday's Group D finale against Costa Rica.
They held up a sign listing the various costs of the trip to Brazil: 1,200 pounds for the flight, 2,000 pounds for "enjoying the ambiance," 2,000 pounds for accommodation. The punchline? "Arriving after elimination — priceless."
FIFA officials probably weren't as amused as all the folks who retweeted an image of the sign, which plays off MasterCard's signature ad campaign. The tournament credit card sponsor is Visa.
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