World Cup not to blame for protests: FIFA

2013-06-20 08:19
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Protests continue in Brazil

Protests against increased public transit fares, the upcoming Confederation's Cup, and government corruption have brought as many as 200,000 to the streets in Brazil. See the latest photos.

Fortaleza - The 2014 World Cup is not the cause of social problems in Brazil, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said on Wednesday as police and protesters clashed before a Confederations Cup game in Fortaleza.

Commenting on continuing protests in the country, Valcke told dpa: "It's not the World Cup which is the problem".

Brazil has been hit by nationwide protests over a wide range of issues including transport price rises, poor public services and the cost of staging the 2014 World Cup.

"We must respect the right of all citizens to protest but I think it is necessary to explain things. It is very easy to say the [public] money has gone to the [World] Cup and for this reason it is not in the country," Valcke said.

Valcke, who was in Fortaleza for the Group A match at the Confederations Cup between hosts Brazil and Mexico, said there was nothing football's world governing body could do about the protests.

"It is an unpleasant situation for all concerned," he said. "Nobody is happy".

Biggest in decades

Reports said some 30 000 people took part in Wednesday's protest in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza. Police fired tear gas against demonstrators who had thrown stones. Witnesses reporting several injured.

Protests were also planned on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro where world champions Spain are scheduled to play Tahiti in the Confederations Cup tournament. The game could attract a million people, Valcke said.

The demonstration is planned several kilometres from the renovated stadium, which is also staging the tournament final.

Mass protests have been taking place in Brazil this week over poor public services, high prices and corruption, as well as against the cost of staging the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil's government said on Wednesday military police would be deployed in cities that have seen mass protests. National Public Security Force units would be sent to Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, Salvador de Bahia and Belo Horizonte, the Justice Ministry said.

The cities are to host the football World Cup next year. A ministry spokesperson said the deployment was part of the preparations for the tournament and unrelated to the protests, the biggest Brazil has seen in decades.

200 000 protesters

In Sao Paulo, an estimated 50 000 people participated in a demonstration that lasted hours late on Tuesday and was concentrated along Avenida Paulista in the centre of the city of 11 million people, police said.

A vehicle belonging to a television station was set on fire in front of the mayor's office. Windows of the building had earlier been smashed by a group of masked protesters, and police withdrew into the building.

Thousands demonstrated in Sao Goncalo near Rio de Janeiro as well as in Belo Horizonte amid a large police presence.

Protests on Monday saw an estimated 200 000 people on the streets across the country, around half of them in its second-largest city of Rio de Janeiro.

A demonstration in the largest city, Sao Paolo, last week over a hike in public transport prices led to clashes. It came as the country hosts the Confederations Cup.

The target of the protests quickly widened to include corruption and excessive government spending on hosting football tournaments instead of on health, education and other public services.

Read more on:    fifa  |  brazil  |  soccer

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