RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The World Cup kicks off Thursday and soccer fans from Rio de Janeiro's slums to southern India's playgrounds have been shining with their passion for the sport.
While national teams are arriving in Brazil, some in Latin America have set out to travel in the most unconventional ways to witness what they describe as a once-in-a-lifetime event. Some Chilean soccer fans built a wood-framed trailer from scratch to travel together and save money on lodging and meals.
The obsession has even spread to the animal kingdom. An elephant with Brazil's flag painted on its trunk and belly kicked a ball guided by its keeper at an elephant camp in the Thai province of Chiang Mai. In Colombia, shepherds guided two teams of sheep representing Brazil and Colombia to play a match as part of a celebration of local craftsmen who make wool ponchos.
Boys in poor slums exchanged World Cup album stickers while others played the game in small courts near Maracana. On a hillside in the Mangueira slum, a boy flew a kite of Brazil's flag.
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