SAO PAULO: The street protests which marked the Confederations Cup last year erupted once more ahead of the World Cup’s Opening Match in Sao Paulo writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
As yellow-shirt-bedecked fans with tickets headed for the Arena de Sao Paulo at Itaquera so police were using tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to break up a protest blockade by 300 demonstrators near a metro station along one of the stadium routes.
Police reports claimed one arrest and five injuries, three of them journalists covering the incident.
Later, AP reported a group of fewer than 100 protesters gathered near a subway stop about 8 miles (13 kilometers) west of the stadium. No protests were reported near the venue.
Sao Paulo was not the only site of trouble.
In Rio de Janeiro striking airport workers blocked a road in support of their demands for a pay increase and a World Cup bonus. Traffic was disrupted further by a demonstration of striking teachers.
Just after the Opening Match kicked off about 300 protesters marched along Rio’s Copacabana beach and stopped outside the FIFA Fan Fest, a closed and secured area on the beach where hundreds of fans were watching the match on a massive screen.
In Belo Horizonte, another World Cup host city, about 200 protesters clashed with police at a rally against the event in a central plaza. Some demonstrators smashed the glass doors and windows of two banks.
Last year, more than a million people protested across the country to demand better public services and highlight corruption and the high cost of staging the World Cup, estimated at around $11bn.