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BRAZIL BEAT: Teacher makes history for Australia

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 29, 2014 at 7:01 pm •  Published: June 29, 2014

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Ben Williams sacrificed his salary as a teacher for six months so he could prepare for the World Cup. On Sunday, it paid off. Williams became the first Australian referee to control a second-round match at a World Cup during the game between Costa Rica and Greece.

The 37-year-old Williams is usually a teacher at a government school in Canberra, the national capital. He handled two group matches in Brazil.

Before the tournament, he told the domestic media that he didn't mind taking unpaid leave from his day job to chase a dream.

"It's a bit strange to see the fortnightly pay slip come through with all zeroes, but it's a sacrifice that's definitely worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Williams told reporters.

He had a busy day Sunday, sending off Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte in the 66th minute, along with seven yellow cards.



SAO PAULO (AP) — Sao Paulo Futebol Clube players run onto the field to AC/DC's "Hell's Bells." It's apparently a favorite of longtime captain Rogerio Ceni.

This team has a storied history in its sprawling city and an entire room filled with trophies to show for it.

Players stop to pray beneath a crucifix in their warmup area at Cicero Pompeu de Toledo Stadium, more commonly called Morumbi after its surrounding neighborhood.

A wall of accomplished Sao Paulo FC players from the Selecao's past World Cup winners is adjacent to a statue of the team's bearded, halo-wearing uniformed mascot, Saint Paul.

There's little chance of players losing their lockers: Each space has a giant poster of its occupant with his name.

And it's only fitting that on one side of the 67,000-seat stadium, the street is called Avenida Jules Rimet after the president of FIFA from 1921-54 whose name was on the original World Cup trophy. The trophy was used through 1970, when it was retired after Brazil's third win, and later disappeared.

— By Janie McCauley —



RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — A short walk from the World Cup Fan Fest site in a neighborhood known as "Recife Antiga," or "Old Recife," is a cobblestone street called Rua do Bom Jesus.

In the middle of the block is a two-story, tan-painted stucco building with arched windows and doors that has been an attraction for those interested in religious history — Jewish history, in particular.

The building sits upon the ruins of what is widely accepted to have been the first synagogue built in the Americas.

In fact, the first Jewish community in New York was comprised of the same people who prayed at Kahal Zur Israel, near the port of Recife, in the first half of the 1600s, but who were forced out when Portuguese colonists retook power in the area from the Dutch (and changed the name of the street once called Roa dos Judeus.)

The building is now a Jewish memorial and cultural center. It was restored to look much as the synagogue would have when it was the center of Jewish life in Recife. The restoration also includes viewing areas of ruins discovered below ground level, including a ritual bath called a mikvah.

Recife was initially settled by the Portuguese in the 1530s, but the Dutch invaded in 1630 and ruled the region for 24 years. It was during this period that Jews who had previously settled in Amsterdam, many of them of Portuguese descent, began moving to Recife for business and religious purposes.

— By Brett Martel —



SAO PAULO (AP) — Mario Alejandro Barrientos hid his hurt over Mexico's World Cup elimination beneath the brim of a humongous sombrero.

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