Monday, June 17, 2013

Brazil: Thousands Protest Near Confederations Cup Venues

The Confederations Cup of soccer began in Brazil over the weekend with a convincing win by the host country and one-goal losses by Mexico and Uruguay.  Yet the real action occurred off the field as thousands of Brazilians protested outside some of the tournament’s venues.

Approximately 600 people gathered outside of the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday to air numerous grievances including a proposed fare hike to the public transit system.  Police responded by launched tear gas and rubber bullets at the multitude.

“I’m with my nervous and sick children and a pregnant women. People can protest but they and the police need to remember that this is a park with children”, said Frederico Junior who was near the stadium when the police acted against the crowd.

The incident outside of the Maracana occurred one day after several of the 500 protesters outside the recently built National Stadium in Brasilia clashed with local police.

"We don't need the World Cup" and "We need money for hospitals and education" read some of the banners used by demonstrators upset at the use of billions of dollars in public funds to build venues for the Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup.

“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,” said BBC soccer correspondent Tim Vickery.  

The protests also extended beyond Brazil to intentional cities such as New York, Sydney and Madrid. 

“Sorry for the inconvenience.  We’re building a new Brazil,” read one sign held by some of the estimated 2000 demonstrators in the Irish capital of Dublin.

The police crackdown also included the firing of tear gas on demonstrators in Sao Paulo last week, which led to dozens of injuries and accusations of brutality. 

Authorities such as Sao Paulo state Gov. Geraldo Alckmin defended the hardline taken against protesters as necessary to prevent “vandalism, violence and obstruction of public roads.”  Yet state officials may have taken a step back after they invited protest organizers to dialogue later today.

The incidents may have an impact on the approval rating of President Dilma Rousseff, which dipped eight points last week.  Prior to Saturday’s match in Brasilia she and FIFA chief Sepp Blatter were roundly jeered by tens of thousands of spectators. 

“Where is the fair play?” Blatter joked to the crowd that supposedly reacted by booing louder at him.

Video Source– YouTube via user fps31 (Amateur video of police firing tear gas at protesters outside of the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro yesterday).

Online Sources – CBC;; LAHT; Eurosport Yahoo!; O Globo; BBC Sport; Reuters;;

No comments: