WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama will be back in Brazil

AP News
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Posted: Mar 20, 2011 3:53 PM
WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama will be back in Brazil

President Barack Obama says he already has plans to come back to Brazil.

As he wrapped up his two day stop here, Obama said he'll be back in 2016 when Brazil hosts the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro _ even though Rio beat out Chicago, Obama's hometown, in its bid to host the Games.

"You may have heard that this city wasn't exactly my first choice for the Summer Olympics," Obama said Sunday during a speech here. "But if the Games couldn't be in my hometown of Chicago, there's no place I'd rather see them than right here in Rio."

The outcome of next year's election will determine whether Obama returns to Brazil in 2016 in his official capacity as president, or as a private citizen.

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Obama will leave Brazil with an extra piece of clothing in his luggage _ a soccer jersey from Flamengo, the country's most popular club.

The team said on its website Sunday that Obama asked for the jersey in a brief meeting with team president Patricia Amorim at the club's headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. Amorim said Obama congratulated her for being Brazil's first female club president and posed with her for photos.

The club presented Obama will a traditional black and red jersey with the president's name written on the back, along with the No. 10.

Flamengo is a six-time Brazilian champion and has the country's biggest fan base. One of the club's training fields was being used as a landing area for the helicopters transporting Obama and his entourage across Rio.

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Obama played a little soccer himself Sunday during a visit to the City of God shantytown.

The president, with his whole family in tow, stopped at a community center in the heart of the jostling slum of 40,000. After watching a drum and martial arts performance, Obama shed his coat and tie, rolled up his sleeves and joined a group of children playing soccer. The children shouted "Welcome Obama" when they first caught sight of the president.

The presiden surprised one young boy when he dribbled the ball with him one-on-one. Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha got involved, too, kicking a ball around with the kids.

The Obama girls know their way around a soccer field. Both play on teams in Washington, and the president has been a frequent supporter on the sidelines.

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Associated Press writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.