Brazil gives Cup champions hero’s welcome on homecoming


BRASILIA, Brazil, AP

Tens of thousands of cheering, flag-waving Brazilians packed the streets of the capital Tuesday to welcome the national soccer team which returned as national heroes after winning the country’s fifth World Cup Victory.

Escorted by four air force jets, the Boeing 767 carrying the team appeared in the clear blue skies of Brasilia at 900 a.m. (1200 GMT) and circled the city during 15 minutes as if to salute the large crowds below.

As the Varig plane, with five stars painted on its fuselage, landed, a loud cheer erupted from the crowd.

As the plane slowly taxied toward the terminal, team captain Cafu and coach Luis Felipe Scolari leaned out from the two sides of the cockpit waving Brazilian flags.

Holding up the World Cup trophy, Cafu was the first to emerge from the plane followed by Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation, and the rest of the team.

As they descended the red carpeted staircase, fireworks exploded and an air force band began playing a catchy samba rhythm.

“I am very happy and I am sure all of Brazil is very happy,” Ronaldo, the World Cup’s top scorer, told a TV reporter who rushed up to him on the runway.

After passing through customs, the players climbed onto two fire trucks that carried them past an estimated 100,000 people who lined the 15 kilometer (9 mile) route between the airport and the “Plaza of the Three Powers,” where the Planalto Presidential Palace, Congress and the Supreme Court are located.

Most in the crowd wore the yellow jersey of the national team and waved Brazilian flags of all sizes as the fire trucks slowly made their way toward the palace, where they were to be greeted by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Tuesday was declared an optional holiday in Brasilia, which allowed banks, businesses and schools to choose whether they would stay open or not.

Two more welcomes were scheduled for later in the day in Rio de Janeiro and in Sao Paulo.