Thu, Nov 01, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Brazilians celebrate hosting rights

MIXED RESPONSE FIFA's decision may have pleased Brasilia, but some of the country's poor complained that the government has got its priorities all wrong

AP , RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Brazilians celebrate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AFP

State officials draped green-and-yellow banners and huge soccer jerseys from Rio's two most prominent mountains on Tuesday to celebrate Brazil's selection as the host of the 2014 World Cup.

Fifty mountain-climbers hung a 50m-by-50m jersey bearing the slogan "The 2014 World Cup is Ours," from the world famous Sugar Loaf mountain.

Another jersey, bearing the same slogan, was hung below the Christ the Redeemer statue that sits atop Corcovado mountain, while about 100 flag-bearing dancers performed at the statue's base.

"Rio is a marvelous city and hosting the Cup will make it more marvelous," said Andrea Ribeiro, who was waving a flag by the Christ statue.

At the Maracana stadium -- the site of the last game of the 1950 World Cup before a crowd estimated at 200,000, workers spread two jerseys across the pitch reading: "The new Maracana is ours and so is the 2014 World Cup."

In the Amazon capital of Manaus, where officials hope to attract some of the early round games to the jungle city, dozens of revelers waved state flags outside the colonial-era opera house and danced to the locally popular Boi Bumba rhythm.

But aside from the official commemorations, celebrations were surprisingly muted with no dancing in the streets and none of the fireworks that are common during most of the important matches.

One reason for the muted reaction may have been that Brazil's selection was practically assured after Colombia withdrew its bid to host the tournament, leaving the only country to win five World Cup titles as the only candidate.

Another reason for the muted reaction, according to many, was that Brazil has other more immediate concerns.

"Sincerely, I'm not happy. Brazil has serious problems: hospitals that don't work, extreme poverty and all the government thinks about is having this World Cup to please the foreigners," said Carlos Alberto Fonseca, a 41-year-old security guard.

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