Spain lands in Brazil to begin World Cup defense
CURITIBA — Spain arrived in Brazil late Sunday as it prepares to defend its World Cup trophy.
Wet weather welcomed the world champions to the southeastern city of Curitiba, where Spain will be based throughout the tournament.
Spain opens its defense against the Netherlands Friday in Salvador, with Chile and Australia also opponents in Group B.
Players and staff were whisked straight from the plane into an awaiting bus, which then took the team to its hotel and training facility at local club Atletico Paranaense, on the outskirts of the city.
Unlike in South Africa four years ago when banners and flags welcomed their arrival, there were no indications that the World Cup champion was in Curitiba apart from signs at the training facility.
England and Germany also arrived in Brazil earlier to launch their World Cup campaigns.
England touched down in Rio de Janeiro after an overnight flight from Miami and was escorted to their hotel in the posh Sao Conrado district by military police.
England, which plays its opening Group D match against Italy in the Amazonian city of Manaus Saturday, is taking over two of the hotel’s 17 floors and will train out of public view at a nearby military base just beneath Rio’s famed Sugar Loaf mountain.
The Three Lions will get a daily glimpse of the huge gulf between the haves and have-nots in a city where the more than $11 billion spent on the World Cup has fueled months of protests. King-size suites at the hotel cost around $1,000 a night and a swanky mall and country club are nearby.
Including the hosts, 19 teams were in Brazil as of early Monday.
Cameroon leaves for Brazil
Cameroon’s squad left for the World Cup early Monday after resolving a strike over bonuses that saw it refuse to board its plane to Brazil Sunday.
The special flight carrying the “Indomitable Lions” left the capital Yaounde at 5 a.m. Monday after the Cameroonian football federation FECAFOOT paid each player a bonus of more than 5 million CFA francs ($10,400), in addition to a 50 million CFA francs bonus paid by the government.
The FECAFOOT payment was equivalent to six percent of the sum the Cameroonian federation is due to receive from FIFA for participation in the World Cup, the officials said.
The FECAFOOT had to take out a loan to pay the players because it would not receive the money from FIFA until three months after the World Cup is over, head of communication Laurence Fotso said.
The players had refused to leave their Yaounde hotel Sunday for an 0800 GMT departure for Rio de Janeiro, where world governing body FIFA said they were expected at 1925 GMT.