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World Cup notes: Chilean fans stampede soldout game

Chile fans are escorted by police after dozens of them crashed a gate and tried to enter Maracana stadium to watch their country play Spain. DYLAN MARTINEZ/REUTERS

Nearly 100 rampaging Chilean fans busted through a security checkpoint at the Maracana stadium Wednesday, running through a large media room and breaking down walls trying to find a way into the soldout Spain-Chile game.

The red-shirted supporters, mostly young men, surged through the FIFA media center underneath the stands, pushing and shoving their way past journalists and TV crews toward a corridor they apparently thought would lead to the grandstands.

To get to the corridor, the fans broke down a temporary wall in one corner of the room, sending metal lockers crashing to the ground, according to Associated Press journalists. They then rushed back down the corridor in the other direction, sending parts of the same wall crashing down onto media work tables.


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Security officials at the Maracana — where the final World Cup final will be held July 13 — were slow to react. They eventually contained the fans in a section of the corridor around 15 minutes after they first broke in.

FIFA said at least 85 fans were detained. Some were marched away in a line by security officials, their arms out in front of them and rested on the shoulders of the person in front.

Outside, riot police armed with stun guns forced dozens of the detained fans to walk single-file toward a holding area. There, the Chile supporters chanted and loudly complained about scalpers charging $1,000 a ticket for the game. ‘‘I traveled thousands of kilometers to get here!’’ one fan yelled, while others chanted ‘‘FIFA is a mafia! FIFA is a mafia!’’

Asked how many guards should have been watching the entryway where the Chileans busted through, security guard Diego Goncalves said ‘‘about 20.’’

‘‘I was the lone guy standing out there (near the entry to press center),’’ Goncalves said. ‘‘All of a sudden they knocked down the fence and just pushed their way through.’’


FIFA said the fans forced their way past security.

‘‘Ahead of the Spain versus Chile match at the Maracana a group of individuals without tickets violently forced entry into the stadium, breaking fences and overrunning security,’’ FIFA said in a statement. ‘‘They were contained by the security and did not make it to the seats.’’

In the joint statement, FIFA and Brazilian World Cup organizers said they ‘‘condemn these acts of violence.’’

The fans came extremely close to racing down a corridor that leads onto the field. But they apparently didn’t know how close they were and came back toward the media room.

There, security guards eventually gained control of the situation, waving their hands frantically and ordering the Chile supporters to sit down in a large group before leading them away. Many fans covered their face with scarves containing Chile’s logo as they were photographed and filmed by journalists.

After the fans broke in, security was beefed up, with long lines of heavily armed military police standing watch as thousands of fans lined up to get inside the stadium.

Rio’s military police and state secretariat declined immediate comment on security and asked the AP to send questions via email. There was no immediate response.

Ronaldo to play vs. US

Cristiano Ronaldo is fully fit to play against the United States in their crucial Group G match at the World Cup on Sunday, a Portugal teammate said Wednesday.


Ronaldo needed an ice pack for his troublesome left knee during Wednesday’s earlier training session, once again raising concerns about the world player of the year’s fitness.

But backup goalkeeper Beto said the Real Madrid star would be ready for the showdown with the US in the Amazon rain forest capital of Manaus.

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‘‘Cristiano is 100 percent fit to play. Every match, if he starts to play, it is because he is fit to play, he’s ready to play,’’ Beto insisted. ‘‘He loves football but his body is the most important thing for him . . . so if he starts a match he is ready, he is fit, so I don’t think that is a problem.’’

Portugal was humiliated in a 4-0 defeat by Germany in their World Cup opener. Ronaldo was doubtful to play before that game, but declared himself fit. He went on to produce a subdued performance.

Ronaldo has been hampered by tendinitis and a muscle injury since before the tournament.

Ghana: No revolt

Ghana team officials said reports of a ‘‘player revolt’’ against coach Kwesi Appiah following the 2-1 loss to the US Monday aren’t true.

The Ghana Football Association said a radio station misinterpreted the reason a news conference at the team base was postponed on Tuesday.

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Ghana’s Joy FM reported players — in particular Germany-based forward Kevin-Prince Boateng — were unhappy with Appiah’s tactics. Boateng and AC Milan’s Michael Essien started on the bench for the Group G game.


The GFA said reports of a revolt are ‘‘absolutely false’’ and the news conference was put back from the morning to the afternoon because the team only arrived back from Natal at 3 a.m. local time.

Viewing site bombed

Survivors of a bomb blast at an illegal World Cup viewing site in northeast Nigeria that killed at least 14 people said Wednesday the force of the explosion blew off limbs and knocked people senseless.

Unrelated to the attack, police said security forces arrested nearly 500 people, including a ‘‘terror kingpin’’ in the southeast of the country.

At least 26 people were wounded in Tuesday night’s blast as soccer fans were viewing the Brazil-Mexico match in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, police said.

‘‘The bomb just threw me and I didn’t even know where I was,’’ survivor Babagana Mohammed said. He recovered consciousness in the hospital.

FIFA offered ‘‘sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and friends.’’

Witnesses said a suicide bomber drove a tricycle taxi packed with explosives into the area. But Police Assistant Superintendent Nathan Cheghan said the explosion came from a car parked and abandoned on the road in front.

Cheghan said such viewing sites were banned in Yobe state two months ago because they have become a target of Boko Haram, an armed Islamic group that wants to turn Nigerian into an Islamic state.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but he blamed Boko Haram.


The government spokesman on the insurgency, Mike Omeri, said Wednesday that Boko Haram plans to attack crowded areas in Abuja, the capital in the center of the country, with petrol tankers loaded with improvised explosive devices. Omeri spoke at a daily news briefing. Two separate car bombs in April killed about 100 people in Abuja.

Security experts had warned that Islamic militants might attack crowds watching the World Cup in public places in Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, as they did in 2010 in Uganda. The explosions in Kampala, Uganda, at two sites where people watched the 2010 World Cup final on TV killed 74 people. Al-Shabab, a Somali insurgent group, set off those bombs.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense said it has detained ‘‘a terror kingpin in the list of wanted terrorists.’’

A statement Tuesday night said he was found among 486 suspects arrested while travelling at night in a suspicious convoy of 33 buses in southeast Enugu state.

Local news reports have said the men and a handful of women detained said they were travelling from the north to Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil capital in the south, to look for work.

Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened to attack targets in the Niger Delta which produces much of the oil that makes Nigeria Africa’s largest petroleum producer.

Until this year, Boko Haram attacks were almost exclusively limited to northern Nigeria and concentrated in the northeast. This year, attacks blamed on the extremists have spread to at least four central states and have increased in frequency and deadliness. More than 2,000 people have been killed this year, compared to some 3,600 in the four previous years.

Maradona blocked

Diego Maradona is not a special guest of FIFA at the World Cup, though Gisele Bundchen could still be. FIFA played down the latest broadside aimed by Maradona, one of the governing body’s fiercest and most regular critics. The Argentina great has claimed in the media that he was blocked from watching his country at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday. While FIFA dismissed reports that Bundchen could present the actual World Cup at Maracana on July 13, the Brazilian supermodel seems a candidate to bring the trophy on to the field before kickoff.

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A stray bullet grazed the neck of a 7-year-old boy near a site where thousands gathered to watch a large-screen broadcast of Brazil playing Mexico in the host city of Fortaleza, police said. Police said they are investigating the cause of Tuesday’s shooting. No one else was hurt and the hospital where the boy was being treated says his wound was not life-threatening.

Meanwhile fist fights broke out between Australian, Dutch and Brazilian fans that had gathered near bars and restaurants of Porto Alegre, a day before The Netherlands and Australia were to meet in the Estadio Beira-Rio there.

The G1 Internet news portal posted a video showing one man with a gun in a holster, though he did not draw the weapon. Police quickly dispersed the crowd and no one was arrested or hurt.

In downtown Sao Paulo, police used pepper spray on fans trying to force their way into a fan fest locale to watch the Brazil-Mexico game. Police said the area had been sealed off because it had already reached its capacity of 25,000 spectators.

Some fans hurled bottles and metal crowd-control barriers at police, injuring 15 people, none seriously.

Yellow fellows

Robin van Persie and Tim Cahill have both scored contenders for goal of the World Cup. Both will miss their team’s last Group B matches in Brazil.

Cahill scored a stunning volley Wednesday to equalize in the 21st minute of Australia’s match against the Netherlands in Porto Alegre before being booked just short of halftime for a late challenge on Bruno Martins Indi, his second yellow card of the tournament.

Van Persie, who scored a memorable looping header against Spain last week and added his third goal of the tournament in the second half against Australia, was booked shortly after half time for putting his hand in the face of Matthew Spiranovic.

Two yellow cards in group play mean an automatic suspension for the next match.

And Uruguay captain Diego Lugano has been ruled out against England on Thursday after a left knee strain intensified in recent days.

Scans showed that the 33-year-old defender does not currently require surgery, but it is unclear if he will be fit to face Italy in the Group D finale on Tuesday.

‘‘Lugano hasn’t been feeling very well lately. He had some pain,’’ Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said through a translator on Wednesday. ‘‘We thought it’s just better he doesn’t play because he feels pain in his knee ... and he has to recover. We will have to follow very closely how he improves in the next days to decide if he will play later.’’

Uruguay and England both lost their Group D openers on Saturday.

16 Colombians arrested

Police say they have arrested 16 Colombians for allegedly assaulting two Brazilians in the World Cup host city Belo Horizonte.

A statement on the police department’s website says the 16 allegedly threatened the victims with knives and were arrested Wednesday morning.

Phone calls to the department seeking additional details about the alleged assault went unanswered.

The website also reported that two other Colombians were arrested in Belo Horizonte Monday night on suspicion of stealing a vuvuzela horn from an American tourist.

And Brazilian authorities say they have arrested two Australians and two Dutchmen for allegedly scalping tickets to the Australia-Netherlands World Cup match in the city of Porto Alegre.

Alan Cardoso is a spokesman for the public security department in Rio Grande do Sul state. He says the four men were nabbed hours before Wednesday’s game trying to sell 43 tickets for up to $3,000 each. The highest FIFA-set price for the match was $175.

The four have denied they were scalping tickets, saying they were going to deliver the tickets to friends.

Selling tickets to sporting events for prices higher than face value is a crime in Brazil punishable by up to two years in prison.

Gay rights using spotlight

Gay rights activists in Brazil are using the spotlight of the World Cup to draw attention to the harsh penalties gay people face in many of the countries represented at soccer’s premier event.

This week’s first-round featured a match between Iran, whose former president claimed gays don’t exist, and Nigeria, where the penalty for gay sex ranges from imprisonment to death by stoning. At a city square near the match in Curitaba, a protest led by the gay rights organization Grupo Dignidade attracted about 400 people, many brandishing signs reading ‘‘Show homophobia the red card,’’ and ‘‘In this World Cup, homophobia is out of bounds.’’

Activists also are pointing out that Brazil, itself, is not entirely gay-friendly. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo long have hosted some of the biggest and best-known gay pride parades in South America, and the country was the second in the continent to legalize gay marriage, but outside of major cities, being gay continues to be a fraught existence.

Last year in Brazil, there were 313 anti-gay killings, according to the watchdog organization Grupo Gay da Bahia. In 2012, nearly 10,000 anti-gay human rights violations were reported, according to a Brazilian government review.

‘‘We have made great strides here in Brazil,’’ said Grupo Dignidade leader Toni Reis. ‘‘But we still have a long way to go.’’

Reis said gay activists who attended Monday’s Iran-Nigeria match were well-received by fans of those two countries and that several Iran supporters who saw the nearby protest expressed their support for its message.

‘‘We’re not against the Cup and we’re not against the players or the fans,’’ Reis said in a telephone interview. ‘‘Our objective was to make a strong statement against homophobia around the world.’’

Other World Cup nations, too, have come under criticism for their policies on homosexuality. Russia, which is hosting the 2018 World Cup, touched off an international furor last year over legislation prohibiting ‘‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.’’ Next week, Russia will face Algeria, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment.

‘‘Homosexuality was considered a mortal crime in Brazil and then as a sickness,’’ Reis said. ‘‘Traces of that remain, but Brazilian society has come a long way.

‘‘We could be a model for countries like Iran and Nigeria.’’