David Beckham has played down his confrontation with a fan in the England dressing room, but Fifa say World Cup stadium security will be tightened. The England fan eluded security and made it into the team's changing room after the 0-0 draw against Algeria on Friday, and the English Football Association (FA) complained to Fifa. Ten minutes earlier, Princes William and Harry were in there talking to the players. "Luckily it was after the princes had left, 10 minutes after," Beckham said yesterday. "The actual fan literally just walked in very casually and just said something to me and then walked out. There was no scuffle, there was no aggression at all. He didn't comment on the performance." Beckham was speaking at an FA reception attended by the two princes, who are following England's World Cup progress. Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne, joked that he and his brother might have been responsible for the fan getting into the room. "Harry and I had left the door open. It was our fault," he said. Nicolas Maingot, a Fifa spokesman, says that "security will be tightened so this never happens again".
Fifa did not allow Brazil and Ivory Coast to train at the Soccer City Stadium in order to preserve the pitch for their Group G match today. The Brazilian football federation said yesterday the teams will not train at the venue to avoid damaging the field. Brazil on Friday had to switch practice facilities because of the pitch conditions at its training camp in Johannesburg. The five-time champions moved training yesterday to a school in Johannesburg. Germany and Serbia could not practice at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium ahead of their match in Port Elizabeth on Friday, also to preserve the pitch.
Iker Casillas, the Spain goalkeeper, is not distracted by the pitchside presence of his television presenter girlfriend and is fully focused on his job, according to defender Raul Albiol. Casillas, who is in a relationship with Sara Carbonero, a Telecinco reporter covering the World Cup, was criticised for a lunging tackle that resulted in Switzerland scoring the only goal of Spain's Group H opener on Wednesday. He had to explain himself in a live interview with Carbonero immediately after the match and the Spanish press have suggested her presence at games was a distraction for the Spain captain. "If Iker has anything, it's a lot of personality, experience and level-headedness," Albiol said at a news conference at Spain's training base in Potchefstroom yesterday. "He knows he's the captain," Albiol added. "A key player, and everything else is nonsense."
Potchefstroom's streets are lined with Spanish flags and its businesses flash banners written in Spanish as locals try to make Spain's World Cup squad feel at home during the tournament. So far though, there have been very few sightings of Xabi Alonso, David Villa or any other Spanish team member. Now, some of the locals in this university city of 250,000 are feeling swindled. "Where are the Spanish players?" Agreement Sibanda, a 25-year-old waiter from Zimbabwe, asked AP. "I want to see them, I mean physically see them. But they are never here." The European champions have secluded themselves at a training base on a nearby university campus. And after a surprise 1-0 opening loss to Switzerland, that is unlikely to change.
Ever since Thierry Henry's unpunished hand ball helped deny Ireland their spot at the World Cup, the Irish have been awaiting their moment of retribution ? and are cheering every slip-up as France stumble. After Mexico beat the French 2-0 on Thursday, supporters in Dublin were wearing sombreros and downing tequila shots. "We had our sombreros out last night. On Tuesday we'll be blowing our vuvuzelas in support of the South Africans," said Paddy McCafferty, an out-of-work Dublin construction worker who was out collecting the morning newspapers ? at 2pm ? after celebrating France's defeat until dawn. A grassroots movement, www.anyonebutfrance.ie, has launched a Facebook site along with a promotion offering ?5 (Dh 22.5) off restaurant meals in Ireland every time a French opponent scores a goal. Its motto: "Promoting hands-free football at World Cup 2010."