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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italy to Seek Appeal, Brazilian Apologetic

MARTINSVILLE, New Jersey -- Italian team officials say they will appeal an eight-game suspension for defender Mauro Tassotti but do not dispute that he had committed an offense.


Raffaele Ranucci, head of the Italian delegation, said Tuesday the aim was to reduce the ban but that Italy does not expect Tassotti to be freed for the rest of the World Cup.


Ranucci said the punishment appeared extreme compared to a similar incident that got Brazilian defender Leonardo a four-game ban.


Tassotti, 34, an AC Milan defender, broke the nose of Spanish forward Luis Enrique by elbowing the opponent in the dying minutes of Saturday's World Cup quarterfinal with Spain, which the Italians won 2-1. FIFA announced his suspension Tuesday.


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While the soccer world searches for superlatives to describe Brazil's play in the World Cup, strikers Romario and Bebeto are unimpressed.


In fact, they are almost apologetic.


"Technically, we haven't shown soccer of great quality," Romario said Tuesday.


Wait a minute. This is a mediocre performance?


Brazil is heavily favored to win its fourth world title. The team boasts a 4-1-0 record and a lilting "samba soccer" that delights even those who know little about the game's finer points.


U.S. defender Alexi Lalas, victimized by Bebeto in a 1-0 Brazilian victory in the second round, called the South American team "awesome."


"They're dribbling maniacs," Lalas said after the match. "They come at you at 100 mph."


Yet its two brightest stars are underwhelmed. "We're not playing that 'show-soccer' people expected," Romario said. "We're playing a modern and efficient soccer."


"What matters is the end result," Bebeto added. "It's useless to play pretty and lose. Maybe it's not great soccer, but it's practical."


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Bulgaria's storybook World Cup adventures are proving to be an emotional experience for goalkeeping father and son Bisser and Borislav Mihailov.


Borislav Mihailov said Tuesday his father was in tears on the phone when he rang the family home in Sofia, apparently overcome by Bulgaria's advance to the semifinals.


Mihailov senior also kept goal for the national side, winning five caps, and made 250 appearances for his son's former club Levski Sofia.


Mihailov said the squad had received more than 200 messages from wellwishers as well as telephone calls from the Bulgarian president and prime minister.


The acclaim of officials and politicians is ironic considering that Mihailov and scoring hero Hristo Stoichkov were among the players banned for life by the Bulgarian soccer federation in 1985 following a brawl in the domestic cup final.


Mihailov was forgiven in time to play in the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico, but late last year was still an unlikely national hero.