Rio police clash with protesters near Confederations Cup match

Eurasia News


Protests in Brazil have intensified once more with police using tear gas to quell angry crowds in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Confederations Cup final between the national team and Spain.

Football fans and activists clashed with police near the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro Sunday, only minutes before the kick-off of the match which saw Brazil beat Spain 3-0. The violence erupted when the protesters started throwing stones, with a law enforcement resolve to fire tear gas.

The march organized on social media sites asked the fans to turn up and support the national team and to rally in anger over inadequate public services. People responded by shouting slogans, banging the drums and marching to the stadium and bringing traffic to a halt.

The activists are frustrated over the high costs of the World Cup the country is due to host as well as the level of corruption involved, while the majority of the population suffers from poor healthcare, education and transport.
More than 11,000 police and troops were deployed to insure the safety of the event and to protect some 78,000 fans at the stadium.

Earlier in the day, thousands of demonstrators marched toward Maracana, most of them peacefully.

“There won’t be a final,” chanted some of them, who earlier released 20 balloons into the sky with a huge poster reading “FIFA, get out.”

But a small group of hooded protesters lit a fire in the street and hurled stones at police who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets as police helicopters circled overhead.

The tournament was hit by unprecedented social unrest, with more than 1.5 million Brazilians taking to the streets nationwide over the past two weeks.

“We are against the privatization of the stadium and forced housing displacement, linked to the 2014 World Cup and the (2016 Rio summer) Olympics,” said Renato Cosentino, a spokesman for one of the groups

Hundreds of demonstrators also rallied in the Tijuca district, about one mile from Maracana, dancing and chanting: “FIFA, pay my (bus) fare” or “Maracana is ours.”

“I am here in an act of patriotism, for more education, health, transport — and less football,” said 69-year-old Nelson Couto, wearing the green and yellow colors of the Brazilian flag.

Despite the festive atmosphere, many Brazilians are angry at the $15 billion being spent to host the tournament and next year’s World Cup.

Protesters complain the government has found billions of dollars to build brand new stadiums for 12 World Cup host stadiums while transport, education and health remain underfunded.

Despite the social turmoil, which began in Sao Paulo in early June over the rising cost of public transport, polls show more than two-thirds of Brazilians support their country hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950.

Brazil is the most successful country in World Cup history, with five wins.