FIFA Confederations Cup Opener Spoiled After Police Clash With Protesters Outside Stadium
About 1,000 protesters complaining about the high cost of staging the World Cup "demonstrated in front of the National Stadium in Brasilia just hours before Brazil played Japan in the opening match of the Confederations Cup" on Saturday, according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. Riot and mounted police "were called up to keep demonstrators from getting too close to the stadium as thousands of fans arrived for the inaugural match in the nation's capital." The protesters "started chanting and marching about a mile away from the venue." Tear gas bombs were thrown by the police, "and pepper spray was used to try to control the protesters as they moved near the venue." Police later "shot rubber bullets to disperse the crowd." The match "was not disrupted by the protest," and Brazil won 3-0 in front of a crowd of 67,423 people. The protesters shouted against the local government, "and carried banners saying that too much money was being spent on the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup while the majority of the population continued to struggle." One of the protesters, 21-year-old Vinicius de Assis said, "We are demanding more respect to the population. They are building these overpriced stadiums and are not worrying about the situation of their own people." The demonstrators "also shouted against FIFA," saying that football's governing body does not have the right to make demands on the Brazilian government. They chanted, "FIFA, go away" (AP, 6/15).
DOZENS ARRESTED, INJURED: The BBC reported "protests left 39 people injured" and "30 arrests were made." BBC Sport's South American football correspondent Tim Vickery said, "Brazilian society was explicitly told in 2007 that all of the money spent on stadiums would be private money. It hasn't worked out that way at all. More than 90% of the money being spent on football stadiums is public money" (BBC, 6/16). WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER's Matthew Grayson wrote FIFA said its officials are "monitoring the situation" in Brazil and believe police can cope with the violent protests (WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER, 6/14).
SECOND DAY OF PROTESTS: REUTERS' Pedro Fonseca reported police on Sunday "fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds as protests marred a second successive day" of the Confederations Cup. Protesters "tried to pass a police blockade outside Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium," where Mexico were playing Italy in the tournament. Protesters in Rio are "also angry in Rio about a local issue surrounding the cost of public transport" (REUTERS, 6/16).
BLATTER CALLS FOR RESPECT: REUTERS' Mike Collett wrote Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA President Sepp Blatter "were jeered before the match at the Mane Garrincha National stadium as the public showed their discontent" (REUTERS, 6/16). XINHUA reported Blatter "urged fans to show more respect" after Rousseff was roundly booed before the opening Confederations Cup match between Brazil and Japan on Sunday. Blatter: "Brazilian football fans, where is the respect and fair play, please?" Rousseff's popularity has tumbled in recent weeks "amid rising inflation and concerns that billions of dollars of public money is being spent on World Cup and Olympic projects instead of essential public services" (XINHUA, 6/16).