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Carnival revisited

Brazilian queen
Before the World Cup even started, you'd find her standing near the main entrance to the immense Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where the final will be held on July 13.

You can't help but notice her. Not just because of her disarming smile and short white skirt, but there's also the kitschy gold crown she wears on her head. Oh, and the yellow/green sash that seems to be glued diagonally across her Brazilian football shirt.

Her name is Roberta. For the next few weeks, she'll be here every day, not far from the bronze statue of Brazil football legend Hideraldo Luiz Bellini.

She's doing this not only because she likes to be photographed with the Brazilian flag. But also because, for the Carioca – as the inhabitants of Rio call themselves – this is the perfect place to meet the world and watch it go by.

We had a quick chat. Here's how it went.

Shouldn't you be in Copacabana, where the FIFA Fan Fest is taking place?
"I could go there, but here around the stadium, fans are just a bit more decked out than on the beach. And it seems as if their clothes are getting more extreme every day. As if they will literally do anything to catch the attention."

Which fans are the most original in your opinion?
"That is difficult to say. Each country has its own wonderful creations. Think of the Netherlands, Colombia and also Belgium, with its fine dark red color. But the most original? The Brazilians, of course. Sometimes it seems as if carnival has returned. I also remain a fan of the Argentinians."
Why is that?
"Because of the colors. I've always liked this light blue and white combination. And what really makes me enthusiastic is when two Argentinian fans arrive dressed up as a blue/white horse, including a huge horse mask. Then I want my picture taken with them."

How often do they ask you to pose?
"It differs, but usually around 100 times a day."

And then you smile and wave like a real queen?
"Of course I do. You become adept at it after a while. It's not so hard to be a queen, you know."

You don't turn down supporters with ugly shirts?
"No, never. Not even if they're wearing Croatian shirts. I find these red and blue checkered shirts one of the least attractive, but I still smile when they take my picture. They've come all the way to Brazil to enjoy the world championship. Who am I to spoil their fun?"

The new queen of Brazil
"Yes, but even she's easy-going."