RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil (AP) — Two youths ran onto the pitch toward the end of France's World Cup training session Friday — one of them because he wanted to kiss striker Karim Benzema's foot.
The first youth sprinted toward Benzema and was intercepted by two security officials, who led him away. He was then taken for questioning by police for about 30 minutes before being released.
"The boy told the police officers that he wanted to kiss Benzema's foot," Major Paulo Cesar Belonci said through a translator. "It was just a joke, but he could have been hurt by trying to jump the gap around the field."
The field inside Botafogo's Santa Cruz stadium is circled by a large ditch, almost like a medieval moat, with the very intention of preventing intruders.
"The boy didn't commit any crime," Belonci said. "He was just taken to the police so we could inform his father of what he had done."
Moments later, the second youth — wearing a Manchester United jersey — tried to take a photo with his camera phone before also being led away by security.
It was France's second public training session of the week, and around 5,000 fans came this time.
France opens its World Cup campaign against Honduras on Sunday, and Benzema's popularity seems to be rising by the day in the otherwise sleepy business city of Ribeirao Preto.
The Real Madrid striker was serenaded by fans' chanting, even screaming, of his name, and he gave a polite thumbs-up.
— By Jerome Pugmire — http://twitter.com/jeromepugmire
DETROIT (AP) — World Cup fever spread before the Detroit Tigers hosted the Minnesota Twins in a Major League Baseball game.
Players in both clubhouses were riveted to TVs as the Netherlands routed Spain 5-1 on Friday, when oohs and ahhs could be heard every few minutes.
Two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera loves to watch the game, but said he was not much of a player while growing up in Venezuela.
"I played until I was about 14 years old and was not very good," Cabrera said. "I played defense and only scored one goal in four years."
Cabrera and teammate Victor Martinez, a fellow Venezuelan, were talking about the World Cup a few hours before they played the Twins.
"Victor is the soccer expert in here," Cabrera said.
Martinez predicts the host Brazilians will win the tournament.
"Venezuela has never been in the World Cup," Martinez said. "So, Brazil is my team because they are our neighbors."
— By Larry Lage — www.twitter.com/LarryLage
BERLIN (AP) — Germany is awash in animal oracles.
Four years after Paul the Octopus correctly predicted the outcome of all seven of the country's World Cup games, some new creatures are making their picks. Suspiciously, though, they both went with Germany.
Regina, a young octopus living in a tank inside the Sea Life aquarium in Berlin, apparently expects the Germans to defeat Portugal in their World Cup opener Monday. The 15-month-old cephalopod prognosticated by opening the lid of one of two boxes installed at a small football goal wall that was dropped into the tank — each containing the same food (parts of two sardines) and covered with a team flag.
Paul, from Oberhausen, died of natural causes in October 2010.
At the zoo in Muenster, an armadillo named Norman quickly rushed through his enclosure toward one of the three small footballs, which was marked with a German national flag. An armadillo is the World Cup mascot.
On Tuesday, a loggerhead turtle named Big Head in Praia Do Forte, Brazil, also made a homer pick — it proved correct, though, when the hosts went on to beat Croatia in the World Cup opener.
FLOOD FEAR ABATE
SAO PAULO (AP) — Fears that flooding could affect games in Brazil's southern city of Curitiba have abated.
Adriana Kreush, a spokeswoman for Curitiba's City Halls, said Friday the Arena da Baixada stadium, hotels and tourist sites are far away from the rivers that overflowed their banks and that "nothing is stopping the games from being held there as scheduled."
Forecasters have said rain is not expected when the stadium hosts its first World Cup match June 16, with Iran facing Nigeria.
Earlier this week, the floods caused the water flow of world-renowned Iguazu Fall on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to increase nearly 30-fold, from 1,500 cubic meters per second to 43,000 meters per second, topping the previous record of 36,000 set in 1992.
— By Stan Lehman
CUIABA, Brazil (AP) — About 15,000 Australia fans have made the 9,000-mile trip to Brazil to cheer on their country in the World Cup, despite grisly predictions that the team — the lowest-ranked in the tournament — will lose all three group matches against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile.
The streets around the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba were awash with Australian green and gold Thursday hours before the Socceroos' opening game against Chile. It was quite a sight, especially with Brazil football fans wearing the same colors also joining in the pre-match party.
"That's their colors, too?" joked Australia fan Craig Bellamy, 50, whose journey from Newcastle, Sydney, comprised two 14-hour flights. "I just thought they were supporting Australia!"
Holding an Australia flag behind his shoulders and with fireworks exploding in the distance, Bellamy said: "It's unreal. It's been a trip of a lifetime — so far."
— By Steve Douglas — www.twitter.com/sdouglas80
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Canada had rare representation at the World Cup in Friday's rematch between the Netherlands and Spain.
Toronto-born midfielder Jonathan de Guzman was in the starting lineup for the Dutch, one of coach Louis van Gaal's key components for trying to stymie the title holder's quick-touch possession game.
The Canadian national team has appeared just once at the World Cup — in 1986, when it lost all three of its group matches against the Soviet Union, France and Hungary without scoring a goal.
At Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova, several Canadian flags could even be spotted amid the orange jerseys of the Dutch fans.
De Guzman is also familiar with Spain's players, having played at Spanish clubs Mallorca and Villarreal previously.
— By Paul Logothetis — www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Directly across the street from Rio's famed Maracana Stadium, the owner of Rio Bebidas, a store selling beer by Brazilian beverage giant Ambev, ordered his workers to cover up the store sign.
The employees weren't sure why, but they suspected it might have something to do with World Cup sponsorship rules — and the Coca-Cola sunshades that went up on the neighboring restaurants.
— By Jenny Barchfield — www.twitter.com/JennyBarchfield
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