SAO PAULO (AP):
Brazil's sports minister is not expecting waves of protests during the World Cup next year, saying the Brazilian people will be more interested in celebrating the tournament than complaining about its cost.
Aldo Rebelo said yesterday he doesn't think Brazil will face anti-government protests similar to those that took place during the Confederations Cup this year, when demonstrators used the World Cup warm-up event to attract attention to a wide range of causes. Among their complaints was the amount of money spent on the World Cup while millions of poor Brazilians continue to struggle.
"I don't believe we will see demonstrations during the World Cup," Rebelo said. "I think the World Cup will be protected by the will of the people to be supportive of a great event. The mood will be for partying, not for protesting, when the national teams and the tourists start arriving in Brazil."
Rebelo's comments come in contrast to what most analysts foresee during football's showcase event next year, when all eyes will be on Brazil and about 600,000 visitors will be in the country. They also expect more waves of protests during the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"During the World Cup, there will be a lot more reason to celebrate than to protest," Rebelo said. "Even those who have reason to protest, they naturally won't choose to do it during the tournament."
About one million demonstrators took to the streets on a single night at the height of this year's protests across Brazil, which largely focused on corruption and woeful public services despite a heavy tax burden.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said recently he was satisfied with the police response during some of the protests that affected the six Confederations Cup host cities. The tournament went on as scheduled, and none of the matches were disrupted. He said he expects the same type of response if protests happen again next year.
Valcke on Sunday had already dismissed concerns over the fan violence that has plagued the South American country inside and outside stadiums in recent months, saying that "football is a passion and you cannot control everything" in a huge country like Brazil.
"These kinds of things will not happen at the World Cup because we will have the highest level of security you can imagine," he said.
Rebelo also downplayed concern with the Black Bloc anarchists that have become a driving force behind protests in recent weeks. The demonstrations have lessened in size, but not frequency since masses took to the streets in June.
The minister, who is the government official in charge of Brazil's preparations for the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics, downplayed a recent threat by the country's largest organised crime group that promised to launch the "World Cup of Terror" next year, with attacks against police similar to those that spread fear across the nation in 2006.