|By JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press|
One of about 160,000 Argentines who flooded into
Local media reports say tens of thousands of Argentine fans remain in the country. They appear to be overwhelmingly young and male: Most are in their 20s, and less than a third of them are women.
"We were taken by surprise" by the influx of Argentines, the Rio newspaper O Globo quoted Mello as saying. "In any place in the world, people have to state where they're going, how much time they're staying, what resources they have and whether they have health insurance. That was not done."
Argentines don't need a visa, or even a passport, to visit
Mello spoke at the Sambadrome, which was turned into a makeshift campsite to help accommodate the waves of Argentines who arrived by car, bus and motorhome during the World Cup. The site was closed last week, and the last campers were evicted. Media reports said Argentine consular officials were there to help organize return transportation for people whose money ran out or whose documents were lost or stolen, but many reportedly weren't interested in such help.
The stragglers dress mostly in raggedy shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops, bathing infrequently at public water fountains or outdoor showers at the beach. There is no need for warm clothes in Rio, where the temperatures currently hover around 28 degrees Celsius (low 80s Fahrenheit).
The Argentines are not the only World Cup fans intent on remaining in
It could prove much more difficult to control the Argentines, without any visa requirements.
Following their eviction from the Sambadrome, Pontoni and 10 or so of his compatriots moved to a nearby park, where they lounged on the grass with their oversized backpacks. They knotted friendship bracelets and prepared other handicrafts to hawk on the beach.
"I don't think I'm going back," said 25-year-old Martin Sichero, a friend of Pontoni. "I came for the World Cup, but now I think I'm here for good."
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