Dani Alves has blamed the media for Brazil's unsuccessful World Cup campaign but conceded that the team did not prepare properly ahead of the humiliating 7-1 defeat by Germany in the semi-final.
"We had good players but we didn't prepare for the game against Germany," Alves said in an interview with Lance!, Brazil's biggest sports newspaper, on Friday.
The Barcelona defender played in Brazil's first four games in the tournament but was then dropped and missed the semi-final along with Neymar, who was injured, and suspended captain Thiago Silva.
Brazil were demolished as Germany scored five goals without reply in an astounding first half.
Alves did not elaborate on how the side was unprepared but blamed the media scrum that always surrounds the national team, known as the selecao.
"The press did not let us work in peace," the 77-times capped Alves said, sidestepping the fact that the suffocating spotlight never stopped previous Brazilian sides winning the Cup.
"You look at other teams and they have 15 minutes of open training. And the press accepts that. But you don't see anything like that in Brazil, where they cover the national team 24 hours a day.
"The press in Brazil gives you compliments if you win. You get a slap in the face if you lose. To me, that was the biggest problem for the selecao, the over exposure."
Alves said earlier this week he would leave Barcelona at the end of the season and move to England.
Djokovic beats Dimitrov; injured Williams withdraws in China
World No 1 Novak Djokovic continued his march to a fifth China Open title by dismantling a flat Grigor Dimitrov in a one-sided quarter-final on Friday while women's top seed Serena Williams was forced to pull out through injury.
American World No 1 Williams, who had reached the last eight on the Beijing hard courts after a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 win over Czech Lucie Safarova late on Thursday, cited a problem in her left knee for handing a walkover to Australian Sam Stosur.
It was the second tournament in a row the 33-year-old, who won her 18th grand slam singles title at the US Open last month, had been forced to withdraw after she quit her opening match at the Wuhan Open last week because of illness.
Bulgarian Dimitrov looked off colour in his display against the Beijing expert Djokovic, who extended his record on the blue hard courts to 22-0 with a 6-2 6-4 win.
The Serb targeted the faltering backhand of the fifth seed in the opening set, which he took with breaks in the fourth and eighth games in an improved display after showing rust in his opening matches.
The second set seemed to be going the same way as Djokovic pushed Dimitrov back with some deep groundstrokes, while producing his trademark extensive court coverage to negate the threat of his opponent as he broke to lead 3-1.
Stosur faces Kvitova in semis
Dimitrov finally showed some fight, breaking back with a thumping forehand cross court winner only to lose serve again in the next game to trail 4-2.
Djokovic looked set to serve out the match at 5-3 and 30-0 up but Dimitrov rallied again, breaking the Serb with the point of the match after a stunning backhand winner down the line at full stretch.
But rather than capitalise on the heroics, the world number 10 crumbled, giving up the match on a third double fault to leave his bid to qualify for the ATP Tour World Finals in London next month in trouble.
Djokovic will face either US Open champion Marin Cilic or Briton Andy Murray, who, like Dimitrov, is chasing a place in the season ending event for the top eight, in the last four.
In the women's tournament, Stosur will take on Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the semis after the Czech beat Italian Roberta Vinci 7-6 (7), 6-4.
World No 3 Kvitova, who won last week's event in Wuhan, mixed seven aces with six double faults as she battled through.
French Open champion Maria Sharapova faces Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova in quarter-final action on Friday with former world number one Ana Ivanovic awaiting the winner in the last four.
Ivanovic, Wozniacki make WTA finals
Eugenie Bouchard, Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic have completed the lineup for the WTA Finals in Singapore later this month after their closest challengers were knocked out early at the China Open.
Germany's Angelique Kerber and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia lost in the third round in Beijing on Thursday to send the quartet through to the October 20-26 tournament alongside Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova.
Seventh seed Kerber, who is ninth in the Road to Singapore, tossed away a one set lead to lose to Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, while US Open semi-finalist Makarova, 11th in the standings, also lost in three sets to Italian Roberto Vinci.
Dominika Cibulkova (10th) was not competing in Beijing after retiring from her first round match against Madison Keys in Wuhan last week.
Italian Vinci had already knocked out Pole Radwanska in the previous round, with former world number one Ivanovic the only one of Thursday's four Singapore qualifiers still involved in the Beijing event.
"It's been my big goal since the beginning of the year," the Serb said.
"Everyone really earns a spot there, and I feel like I've been playing so well the whole year. I was working really hard towards this."
Ivanovic, who won in Japan last month, will take on Halep in the last eight in China on Saturday, while Canadian Bouchard is already in Austria preparing for her next event after being bundled out by Sabine Lisicki in the second round in Beijing.
"I'm excited to compete in my first WTA Finals," Wimbledon finalist Bouchard said.
"I have worked hard all year on and off the court to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore."
World No 1 Williams is the defending WTA Finals champion having beaten China's recently retired Li Na in last year's final in Turkey.
Dutchman Kuyt announces international retirement
Dirk Kuyt announced his retirement from international football on Friday after 104 caps for the Netherlands, saying he felt he no longer had a role to play in the team.
The veteran forward, who proved both his durability and versatility in several positions at the World Cup as the Dutch reached the semi-finals in Brazil in July, told newspapers he had made his decision after talks with new coach Guus Hiddink.
"I still want to be relevant on the field but feel the coach no longer has the role for me that I want," he told both De Telegraaf and Algemeen Dagblad on Friday.
"That’s why I think it is best to retire."
He said he has had several meetings with Hiddink and made a decision after their last discussion last weekend. "After those talks I decided to call it a day.
"It would be have easy to stop after a successful World Cup but I still felt fit. And the coach wanted to keep me. That’s why I continued but on condition that I felt good about the role I would be given.
"But against the Czechs it became clear to me that the choice of attackers fell more towards the youngsters. That left me with a support role. I have to be honest: I’m 34-years-old and I don’t have the energy to sit for two more years on the bench and rarely play," he added. The Netherlands lost 2-0 to the Czech Republic in Prague last month in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier.
Kuyt emphasised Hiddink could always call him up in an emergency.
Kuyt, who plays at Fenerbahce, competed at five tournaments and scored 24 goals for the Dutch. He made his debut in 2004 against Liechtenstein and last played in the friendly against Italy last month.
Kapur shoots two-under 70 at Dunhill Links golf
Indian pro Shiv Kapur shot a two-under-par 70 to be tied 33rd on day one of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland.
The Delhi-born golfer was six shots off the lead in a tournament that is played on three different courses.
The other Indian pro in the field, Jeev Milkha Singh shot 76 and he is playing with John Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Arkansas-based American food giant Tyson Foods.
Kapur playing at St. Andrews on first day, was one-over for first 10 holes after starting on tenth. He birdied second, third and eagled fifth before dropping a shot on eighth.
England's Oliver Wilson took the first round lead for the second straight year as he shot 64 at Carnoustie.
Kapur said: "I had a decent start today although I'm disappointed I didn't take advantage of the good conditions this morning. The wind picked up later in the day which made the last nine holes tricky.
"I've played in this tournament for many years, last year was the first I had to miss. I always make sure I block it out in my calendar at the beginning of each year. The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship provides an opportunity to play across three of the best courses in the world, and I love the pro-am format too. Even if I don't have a successful tournament, I always enjoy myself."
Kapur is playing with Dilip Thomas, an Indian industrialist. He added: "I have been friends with Dilip for over 20 years. He has known me throughout my days as a junior and amateur golfer, so it is always great fun playing with him."
He then said, "Tomorrow (second round) I am off to Carnoustie, my favourite of the three courses."
Among the celebrity amateurs playing are film and TV stars Hugh Grant, Jamie Dornan, Damian Lewis, Bill Murray, Greg Kinnear and Kyle MacLachlan, rock legends Don Felder, Huey Lewis and Tico Torres and many great sporting idols including Sir Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Sir Ian Botham, Shane Warne, Brian O'Driscoll, Sir Steve Redgrave, Tim Henman and Damon Hill.
Three-time Major Champion and double Dunhill Links Champion Padraig Harrington and fellow Irishman Shane Lowry are two strokes off the lead after rounds of 66 at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns respectively, while the four European Ryder Cup heroes from Gleneagles in the field enjoyed mixed fortunes at Carnoustie in the unique pro-am competition.
Stephen Gallacher made the best start of the Gleneagles stars with a four under 68. Victor Dubuisson posted a 71 while World Number One Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer struggled to respective scores of 73 and 74.
In other golf news, India's Rahil Gangjee (71) rode on three birdies on the front nine to move into tied 11th position at the end of the halfway stage of the $650,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters in Taipie on Friday.
Gangjee is now one-over 145 and is four shots behind the leader, Brazilian Adilson Da Silva (66).
Two others Indians, Jyoti Randhawa (75-72) in tied 26th and SSP Chowrasia (72-77) in tied 49th made the cut. But three others Chiragh Kumar (77-73), Sujjan Singh (72-79) and Himmat Rai (74-78) missed the cut.
Gangjee, who is currently 10th on the Order of Merit, needs to stay in top-10 of the Money List to qualify for the CIMB Classic.
He had birdies on first, seventh and ninth but dropped bogeys on 10th and 12th.
Da Silva soared into the lead with his blistering six-under-66 after opening with a 75.
US senator calls for soccer corruption report to be made public
A senior US senator called on Thursday for an investigative report into bidding for soccer's 2018 and 2022 World Cups to be made public, adding to a growing chorus from inside and outside FIFA, the sport's world governing body, for its release.
"The lack of transparency regarding a corruption investigation is troubling," Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat and chairman of a Senate employment subcommittee, wrote to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Michael Garcia, a former United States attorney, is investigating the turbulent bidding process four years ago that ended in the 2018 World Cup being awarded to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
FIFA and Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the Gulf state was awarded the tournament. Qatar has also been criticized over its treatment of migrant workers who work in the construction industry. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Casey had previously called on FIFA to move the tournament from Qatar over labor practices in that country.
"I urge FIFA to make public Mr. Garcia's entire investigative report and that any wrongdoing be swiftly addressed, especially if there is evidence that the vote for the 2022 World Cup was tainted and disadvantaged the US bid," Casey wrote.
The United States bid to host the 2022 World Cup, but FIFA selected Qatar.
Last Friday, Blatter side-stepped demands for the report to be made public, although several FIFA executive committee members have called for its release and Garcia himself also said it should be published.
Con artist pleads guilty in Miami Heat fraud case
A Miami man accused of bilking $7.5 million from investors and scamming a million-dollar package of tickets from the Miami Heat basketball franchise pleaded guilty to wire fraud on Thursday in federal court in Ohio, according to a judicial official.
Haider Zafar, 36, faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the five counts of wire fraud to which he pleaded guilty, as well as more than $1 million in fines, for a scam entangling several National Basketball Association players.
The terms of his agreement were not immediately available.
Court records indicate that Zafar, using a false identity, portrayed himself as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family operating several luxury hotels, including the Marriott in Islamabad.
Zafar also claimed he lived in a penthouse in New York City, and had other residences in high-end buildings there and in Miami.
In late 2012, Zafar used false identity to arrange a deal with a Heat ticketing executive to receive basketball tickets for three seasons worth more than $1 million.
He then obtained $7.5 million from investors in early 2013, claiming the money would be put toward a lucrative business opportunity. He used the funds to pay off the tickets and make other purchases, prosecutors said.
Among the investors caught up in the scam, according to the Miami Herald, were three players then with the Miami Heat: Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and James Jones.
Zafar's attorney, Samuel Shamansky, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Zafar is also awaiting sentencing on an unrelated 135-count indictment from 2013 involving a money-laundering scheme used to buy luxury watches and high-end sports cars.
He pleaded guilty to 30 of the charges in late February and is due to be sentenced in November, according to court records.