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FIFA’s Blatter Says Brazil Protests Use Soccer as ‘Platform’

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff waves to the crowd during the FIFA Confederations Cup match between Brazil and Japan at the National Stadium on June 15, 2013 in Brasilia, Brazil. Photographer: Buda Mendes/FIFA via Getty Images

Sepp Blatter, president of soccer ruling body FIFA, said demonstrators are exploiting the sport by staging protests at the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Security forces have used teargas to break up disruptions on the first two days of the two-week tournament, which is a warm-up event for next year’s World Cup. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Blatter were jeered and whistled at the tournament-opening game in Brasilia two days ago.

“Football is there to bring people together,” Blatter said today in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. “This is clear and I know a little bit about the protests that are here.”

Blatter added that “people are using the platform of football and the international media presence to make certain demonstrations. You will see today is the third day of the competition this will calm down. It will be a wonderful competition.”

Brazilians have been protesting projects linked to the World Cup, including the 7 billion reais ($3.3 billion) in public money being spent on 12 stadiums.

Protesters have marched with banners and chanted slogans in host cities, and in Brasilia about 200 people burned tires and blocked traffic near the stadium that hosted the tournament’s opening match.

“For those that think they can cause any harm or damage the event, they will face the determination of the Brazilian government,” Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo told delegates at the FT/IFA Business of Football Summit in Rio. “The games will happen. We won’t tolerate that any type of organization can disrupt the events. Demonstrations can be tolerated within limits.”

Police also used teargas at a game in Rio yesterday. Protesters say money earmarked for the World Cup would be better spent on social programs to ease inequality in the world’s sixth-largest economy.

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