Dunga closes Brazil practice in unusual move

Brazil closed its practice for the second straight day, an

unusual move that even surprised some of the players.

Brazil is usually one of the most open teams to fans and the

media, but coach Dunga has been trying to keep the team sealed off

ahead of its opener against North Korea next Tuesday.

Neither Dunga nor any other Brazilian officials said why

Sunday’s practice was closed, and the players were unaware of the

change ahead of time.

“We just found out that it was going to be closed now,” Brazil

right back Maicon said. “Maybe he wants to try some different

things with the team.”

It was the third time Dunga kept the media from attending a team

training session since Brazil arrived in South Africa nearly three

weeks ago.

The Brazilian confederation again denied it was a retaliation

against some Brazilian media after they filmed players in the first

closed session and later made a big deal about a dispute between

Daniel Alves and Julio Baptista in one of the practices.

“I’ve been told to tell the journalists that the practice is

closed, that’s it,” confederation spokesman Rodrigo Paiva said.

“I was not told why.”

Most of the World Cup teams allow only a few minutes for the

media to capture images during practices. Until now Brazil had

allowed the more than 300 journalists covering the team to watch

all the practices in their entirety.

“It’s the coach’s right,” reserve midfielder Ramires said. “I

think it helps. It keeps the opponents from knowing details about

our team.”

Hoping to avoid a repeat of the frenzied atmosphere that some

players and officials blamed for the team’s elimination in the 2006

World Cup in Germany, Brazil already was sealed off to fans. Four

years ago, thousands of fans were allowed to follow nearly all of

Brazil’s training sessions, and a fan zone was set up near the

team’s base in Switzerland.

Brazil fell 1-0 to France in the quarterfinals.

“I would like to have all practices open to the fans,” Dunga

said ahead of the World Cup. “But because of what happened in 2006

we have to protect ourselves.”

Players were not worried that the changes would create a

backlash from fans kept from watching their idols.

“I think Dunga’s team has already won the fans, it won’t affect

anything,” Maicon said. “It’s a closed practice so the team can

have a good opener and make the fans happy.”

After playing North Korea, five-time champion Brazil will face

Ivory Coast and then Portugal in Group G.