Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she was unfazed by soccer fans who taunted her as she watched the home team beat Croatia in the opening game of the World Cup in Sao Paulo.
Spectators at the Arena Corinthians stadium jeered the president several times yesterday evening, repeating expletive chants with her name before the opening whistle and after the final one. Cheers provoked by a home team goal turned into boos when the stadium monitor showed Rousseff celebrating.
“I want to remind everyone that I faced situations of the most difficult nature. Situations that tested physical limits, and I withstood,” Rousseff, who was jailed and tortured for taking up arms against Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, said is a speech today. “I won’t, therefore, allow insults that shouldn’t even be heard by children and families to frighten me.”
Sitting alongside FIFA head Sepp Blatter, Rousseff didn’t make an opening statement before the match that Brazil won 3-1. The two were booed before the start of last year’s Confederations Cup, which was played against the backdrop of Brazil’s biggest protests in a generation.
Cheers and jeers on the first day of the tournament reflect the mixed feelings that many Brazilians have toward holding the World Cup, preparations for which were marked by delays and cost overruns. Polls show Rousseff losing support for re-election in October as the $11 billion spent to host the games fail to prevent the economy from slowing.
Brazilians marched in several cities yesterday, at times clashing with security forces. Masked protesters vandalized a bank in the southern city of Porto Alegre and others toppled a police cruiser in Minas Gerais state capital Belo Horizonte, according to images aired on TV Globo.
Dozens marched on Avenue Atlantica alongside Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro as fans nearby on the sand watched the game on a cinema-size screen set up by FIFA.
Voter support for Rousseff fell to 34 percent in June from 37 percent in May, according to a Datafolha poll that pitted her against other potential candidates. The June 3-5 poll published on Folha de Sao Paulo’s website has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
The same poll shows former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva winning 44 percent of the vote if he replaces Rousseff on the ticket. Lula, a member of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, was jeered in Rio during the Pan American Games in 2007.