Party outweighs protest after Brazil Confederations Cup victory

Minor skirmishes between police and protesters fail to disrupt celebrations

Lucas Moura of Brazil celebrates with the trophy and fans at the end of the FIFA Confederations Cup. Brazil beat Spain 3-0 in the final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images.

Lucas Moura of Brazil celebrates with the trophy and fans at the end of the FIFA Confederations Cup. Brazil beat Spain 3-0 in the final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images.

 

Small skirmishes between police and protesters did little to disrupt the festive atmosphere around the close of a major international soccer tournament that has been the backdrop for the biggest mass demonstrations to sweep Brazil in 20 years.

Police clashed with a few belligerent protesters during a small demonstration outside Rio de Janeiro’s Maracan stadium late last night. Inside, Brazil’s national team, cheered on by a thunderous hometown crowd, beat world champions Spain 3-0.

The victory marked a celebratory end to the Confederations Cup, a two-week tournament that has otherwise been overshadowed by the rapid and unexpected wave of recent discontent in Latin America’s biggest country. The Confederations Cup is considered a warmup to the World Cup, which Brazil will host next year.

Authorities deployed about 10,000 police and other security forces for the game after big demonstrations disrupted some matches during the tournament. Though uneventful marches proceeded peacefully earlier in the day, police officers fired teargas last evening to disperse a small group of protesters.

At least two police officers were injured, one burned by a Molotov cocktail in the leg, the other by a blow to the head. Six protesters also suffered minor injuries, local media reported.

The tensions were the latest in a series of protests unfolding as Brazil confronts problems following a near decade-long economic boom. Brazilians have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest poor public services, inflation, rising crime and a host of other ills.

The marches, which drew over 1 million protesters in more than 100 cities at their peak this month, have used the ongoing soccer tournament as a stage from which to vent their grievances.

Many Brazilians are outraged that the country is spending about $14 billion to host the World Cup at a time when schools, hospitals, roads and public security are in dire need of investment.

President Dilma Rousseff, whose approval ratings have plunged since the protests began, was initially expected to attend yesterday’s game - a major event in soccer-mad Brazil. But, taking note of the discontent of voters, she decided not to attend after she was booed at the tournament opener in Brasilia.

On Saturday, polling firm Datafolha said Ms Rousseff’s approval rating sank by 27 percentage points in the last three weeks. Though the numbers fell from what had been consistently high ratings, the precipitous drop suggested that the demonstrations could pose a serious threat to her re-election bid next year.

Reuters