By TALES AZZONI, Associated Press
SAO PAULO (AP) — Fans hanging out at Copacabana beach will get to enjoy the World Cup experience in 2014.
FIFA and local organizers said Friday that Copacabana has been selected as one of 12 Fan Fest locations for the World Cup in Brazil.
The famous beach is a traditional spot for celebrations in Rio, and every year the city accommodates millions of people during New Year's celebrations.
"The FIFA Fan Fest symbolizes the most exciting part of football and the FIFA World Cup: thousands of fans gathered to watch a match together and celebrate," said former Brazil striker Ronaldo, a member of the local organizing committee.
In the capital of Brasilia, fans will gather at the Esplanada dos Ministerios, near key federal government buildings and with the Congress in the background.
The Fan Fest in Sao Paulo will take place at the Vale do Anhangabau, a popular celebration spot in South America's biggest city.
"The FIFA Fan Fest brings together people from all social backgrounds," Ronaldo said. "As Brazilians, we have always had the custom of cheering for our national team in large popular festivals all over the country, therefore I'm sure that this will be the best FIFA Fan Fest of all time."
Fan Fest locations allow visitors to watch games for free on big screens and several musical and cultural attractions are made available to fans.
The Fan Fest will take place on beaches in the northeastern cities of Fortaleza and Natal, where the renowned Praia do Forte will host the event. In the jungle city of Manaus, fans will gather at a memorial being built near the spot where the Amazon River meets the Rio Negro.
"The FIFA Fan Fest provides FIFA and the LOC with a platform to strengthen the fan experience of the FIFA World Cup, taking the event to millions of fans outside of the stadiums," Thierry Weil, FIFA's marketing director, said in a statement. "We're delighted by the enthusiasm shown by the host cities so far and look forward to implementing this spectacular event together in 2014."
The Fan Fest first became part of the official FIFA program in Germany in 2006, following the huge success of unofficial public viewing events in South Korea in 2002. In 2010, the event expanded and not only the South African host cities had the Fan Fest, but also six international venues hosted events that welcomed more than 6 million soccer fans over 31 days, according to FIFA.
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