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Published:Thursday | July 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

 Merkel for final


Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to the World Cup final in Brazil, giving Germany's most prominent fan perhaps her best chance yet to watch the team lift a trophy after eight years of very public support.

Merkel has become a frequent sight at Germany matches since the country hosted the World Cup in 2006, a few months after she took office - and a regular visitor to the team's dressing room.

"I think it almost deserves the name 'historic' and now I can only say that I wish the team lots of strength and concentration for the task that remains ahead," Merkel said yesterday. The government said she will travel with President Joachim Gauck to Rio de Janeiro for Sunday's final against Argentina.

Merkel's celebrations appear to have helped endear the 59-year-old chancellor, who otherwise is rarely given to public displays of emotion, to German voters over the years.

FIFA suspends Nigeria


FIFA has suspended Nigeria from international competition after football leaders were fired by the government following the team's World Cup exit amid a dispute over player bonuses. The suspension took effect immediately yesterday, with Nigerian teams and officials barred from international matches and meetings.

FIFA has set a July 15 deadline to resolve the problem, or Nigeria faces exclusion from the Under-20 Women's World Cup that starts in August in Canada.

FIFA rules protect its 209 member federations from influence by third parties, including politicians.

"The suspension will be lifted once the court actions have been withdrawn," FIFA said.