About 50 protesters stormed a stadium in Brazil during a visit by world soccer governing body FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke in advance of next year’s World Cup.
The group, made up mostly of striking teachers and postal workers, entered the field at the $230 million Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, one of 12 stadiums being built or refurbished for the World Cup. Protesters held banners that criticized FIFA and the use of public money for the World Cup.
“Everybody has the right to demonstrate, but they should respect the rights of other people like the construction workers in the stadium,” Valcke told reporters yesterday in Cuiaba, according to FIFA. Valcke led a delegation that included former World Cup-winning Brazilian soccer players Bebeto and Ronaldo and Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo on an inspection visit of the arena.
The protest came a day after police used tear gas, rubber bullets and percussion grenades in clashes with protesters in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, venues for the opening and final games of the World Cup. Thousands took to the streets in both cities to join striking teachers.
Brazil has been the scene of protests since demonstrators took to the streets in record numbers in June when the country hosted the Confederations Cup, a test event for the World Cup. Protesters’ anger has focused on issues including poor public health and education, political corruption and spending on sporting events.
Two years after Brazil hosts the World Cup, Rio will be the stage for South America’s first Olympic Games. The bill for both events is projected to be more than $30 billion.
The stadium in Cuiaba is one of four arenas that a group of public prosecutors, in charge of overseeing World Cup spending, has said risk becoming useless after the tournament. The city doesn’t have a top-division soccer team, and is unlikely to require a stadium that will have a capacity of about 43,500 when it’s complete.