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Brazil tries to calm fears about '14 Cup

JOHANNESBURG — Preparations for the 2014 World Cup are back on track just two months after FIFA publicly criticized organizers for missing deadlines, Brazil's top soccer official said.

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"There are no problems," Brazil soccer federation president Ricardo Teixeira said as the tournament's official logo was launched Thursday.

He acknowledged uncertainty over Sao Paulo's role as a host city after Morumbi Stadium was removed from the project last month — despite repeated denials it would have to be dropped.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke previously described Brazil's lack of progress as "amazing." Brazil has barely begun building and renovating the 12 stadiums it needs.

FINAL REF PICKED: English referee Howard Webb will get an early birthday present as the ruling body FIFA has chosen him to officiate Sunday's Spain-Netherlands final. Webb, who turns 39 on Wednesday, was picked from 10 remaining referees at the tournament. His assistants are Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey.

DELAYED FANS: FIFA might compensate fans who missed Wednesday's Spain-Germany semifinal because of congestion at Durban's new airport. Hundreds of fans had their flights delayed or turned away from King Shaka Airport. Attendance at Moses Mabhida Stadium was 1,800 below capacity for Spain's 1-0 victory.

KLOSE QUESTIONABLE: F Miroslav Klose could miss Saturday's third-place match against Uruguay because of injury, and with it lose a chance to take over as top scorer in World Cup history. Assistant coach Hansi Flick says Klose, who needs one goal to match Ronaldo's career record of 15 for Brazil, has a back injury.

REF RETIRING: Robert Rosetti, the referee who wrongly awarded a goal to Argentina in its second-round win against Mexico, reportedly has retired from officiating. Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that Rosetti, who missed an offside call against Argentina, will take up a new role directing referees in the second-tier Serie B league.

NEW BALL, SORT OF: FIFA unveiled the official ball for Sunday's final. The Jo'bulani, a gold-colored version of the Jabulani used throughout the tournament, was delivered to the training camps of both teams. The ball's name is a tribute to Johannesburg or Jo'burg, the City of Gold.

OBITUARY: Robert Millward, a longtime Associated Press sports writer covering the tournament, died Thursday, apparently of natural causes, in Johannesburg. He was 58. Mr. Millward of Birmingham, England, had just returned from Cape Town, where he covered Tuesday's Netherlands-Uruguay semifinal in his seventh World Cup. He was found in his hotel room.

Brazil tries to calm fears about '14 Cup 07/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 8, 2010 9:28pm]
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