By George Utley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The red carpet was rolled out for hundreds of football fans yesterday, as Rio’s Tom Jobim/Galeão (GIG) International Airport played host to a good humored and raucous welcoming party. The reception was organized by the Confraria do Garoto – a traditional Carioca Carnival group – in collaboration with the City Tourist office (Riotur.)
Hundreds of foreign supporters were greeted by a festive atmosphere, as confetti was thrown and a Brazilian fanfare played. “We didn’t expect this, thank you Brazil, thank you Rio,” said a newly arrived group of Mexican fans. “We weren’t sure if we should sing because we are rivals in the World Cup after all, but this is not a competition, it’s a celebration!”
Riotur’s vice-president José Carlos Sá explained: “our task isn’t inside the Maracanã, it’s on the way [there and back]. We’re making signposts all over the area for the pedestrians. Today we have fourteen permanent tourist information posts and seventeen provisional ones. Our mission is to look after the tourists well.”
The president of Confraria da Garoto, Nelson Couto, said that he hopes that the tourists are well treated, regardless of the inevitable protests about the cost of the tournament. “Today Colombians, Peruvians, Chileans are arriving. People of all nationalities. We are here giving a nice welcome on behalf of Riotur, the Confraria and in the name of the City of Rio.”
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