AP PHOTOS: Tattoos express Brazilians' soccer love

The Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The fanatic passion Delneri Viana holds for his beloved Botafogo soccer club really gets under his skin - 83 times and counting.

The 69-year-old Viana, retired from the military, spends his days as a full-time fan of his favorite team. Once a week, he heads to his local tattoo parlor to get fresh ink.

''I feel no pain,'' he said on a recent afternoon while sitting on the tattoo table.

Not even when he tattooed the tender skin above his belly button with a version of Rio's famed Christ the Redeemer statue wearing a Botafogo jersey? Or when letters spelling out a nickname for the club were inked onto the bony fingers of his left hand?

No. Viana insists there's only one reason to feel pain: ''When my team loses, especially when I'm there inside Maracana,'' he said, referring to the stadium that will host the World Cup's final match and is Brazil's shrine to the sport.

''Worse still is when Flamengo wins,'' Viana says of Botafogo's archrival.

Tattoos are widely popular in Brazil, where the beach culture and tropical climate make it an ideal place to show off body art. Everybody under age 30 seems to have something etched into their bodies.

Viana can't really say what drives him to get the tattoos or even why he loves Botafogo: ''I just came this way.''

Aside from his tattoos, he sports finger and toe nails painted in his team's black and white colors. In fact, he never wears anything without the club's emblem.

When his phone rings while he's lying atop the tattoo table, it loudly emits - what else? - Botafogo's anthem.

Viana says that, eventually, he'll stop getting tattoos. ''I'll run out of space,'' he says with a shrug.

Felipe da Costa Almeida, a fan of Brazil's most popular team, Flamengo, says it was by the grace of God that he decided to tattoo his entire back with a replica of the Maracana stadium, the Christ statue hovering over it and the emblem of his club.

''I got the tattoo in early 2009, and later that year Flamengo won the Brazilian championship,'' he says. ''I did it because of my absolute passion for football.''

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