Soccer-Porto Alegre set for 'gaucho fiesta' as Argentines invade

lunes 23 de junio de 2014 12:22 GYT

By Angus MacSwan

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, June 23 (Reuters) - By car, bus and plane, tens of thousands of Argentinians are crossing the border into southern Brazil in an invasion of the city of Porto Alegre for Argentina's match against Nigeria on Wednesday.

It promises to be a celebration of their shared "gaucho" culture as well as soccer. But police are also bracing for trouble from Argentina's notorious "barras bravas", hooligans who may try to spoil the party.

"In truth, this is very big for us," said Charles Muller, owner of stall in Port Alegre's public market selling soccer memorabilia.

"The Argentinians are welcome here. It will be like a gaucho fiesta. The hooligans are a minority who do not come for the football or the fun, just for trouble."

Brazil's southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul, is indeed more akin to neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay than to the rest of the country.

They share the gaucho culture of the cowboys of the pampas, most visibly represented by the costume of baggy "bombacha" trousers, wide hats and big leather boots and belts.

People drink "mate" tea from gourds through metal straws and enjoy a good steak barbecue, just as across the border.

With a strong separatist tradition, many - Muller for one - identify themselves as Gaucho first and Brazilian second.   Continuación...