Teams arriving in Brazil for the World Cup have been greeted by cheering throngs, waving flags and, in the case of Japan, fire trucks spraying an arc of water over the team plane.
But they've also been greeted by small armies of armed guards wearing riot gear and toting automatic weapons. More than half the 32 competing teams are already in Brazil, and the U.S. is scheduled to land in Sao Paulo on Monday morning.
England, Germany, Russia, Greece, Algeria and defending champion Spain were among the teams arriving in Brazil on Sunday. The English team, which touched down in Rio de Janeiro after an overnight flight from Miami, was immediately surrounded by a massive security presence, including a police escort to its hotel in the ritzy Sao Conrado district.
The hotel, the Royal Tulip, was the scene of a 2010 shootout during which gunmen took staff and guests hostage. A hotel spokesperson told Agence France-Presse that security has been stepped up and military police will maintain a permanent presence outside the building during stay of the English team, which will also practice under armed guard at a nearby military base.
Germany's greeting was a bit more festive with several hundred fans waving Brazilian and German flags and cheering the team as it arrived in the northeastern state of Bahia. The players quickly boarded a boat for their private, specially constructed training base.
Cameroon was also due to arrive Sunday but the team's departure was delayed when players refused to board the plane, reportedly demanding World Cup bonuses larger than the $104,000 they were said to have offered by the government.
After prolonged talks, a Cameroon Football Federation official told AFP a deal had been reached, and the team was expected to be in Brazil sometime Monday.
Guard is up at home too
Police in England are gearing up for incidents of domestic violence in the run-up to the World Cup after a report by a former police officer and criminologist revealed that abuse rates in some areas jumped by as much as 38% when England lost — and by 26% when England won.
Dr. Stuart Kirby's findings were based on police reports of domestic violence during the last three World Cups, the Guardian newspaper said.
Separate English studies limited to the 2010 tournament found similar results.
J-Lo pulls out of World Cup
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Uruguay's Luis Suarez are both hopeful they're be able to perform in the World Cup, but Jennifer Lopez was officially scratched from Thursday's opening ceremony, FIFA announced Sunday.
World soccer's governing body and the singer were vague on why Lopez was scratched. FIFA cited unspecified "production issues," while Lopez's representatives sent out an email in which they said, "regretfully Jennifer Lopez will not be attending this year's World Cup opening ceremonies."
That leaves Cuban American rapper Pitbull and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte to perform a duet of the official tournament tune "We Are One," which is already controversial in Brazil because Thursday's performance will feature only a few words in Portuguese.