Brazil to keep World Cup protests at bay
COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil (AP)
Brazilian authorities say they've learned from demonstrations during the Confederations Cup not to let protesters get too close to stadiums at the upcoming World Cup.
Andrei Augusto Rodrigues, security head for major events at Brazil's justice ministry, acknowledged that police misjudged the threat to public safety at Rio de Janeiro in June at the final of the Confederations Cup, a World Cup warm-up.
Police under attack from violent protesters fired clouds of tear gas as the game began. Some wafted toward the Maracana Stadium, causing vendors at refreshment and souvenir stands to cough and tear up.
Protesters got within 200 (meters) yards of the stadium, packed with 70,000 spectators for the Brazil-Spain final.
Rodrigues told The Associated Press that police wouldn't repeat the same mistakes and demonstrators at the World Cup would be kept farther away. He spoke to the AP after briefing reporters at the beach resort of Costa do Sauipe, where governing body FIFA is holding the World Cup draw on Friday.
A World Cup security adviser for FIFA, Andre Pruis, said Brazilian authorities correctly handled the demonstrations and defended their crowd-control methods.
''If crowds get violent, you think water cannon is going to work?'' said Pruis, who was head of security at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. ''They've handled it well. I would have done the same.''
He said Brazil will work with foreign police forces as South Africa did in 2010. Argentina tipped off South African authorities about suspected hooligans who traveled for the tournament. South African authorities monitored them for a while before deporting them, Pruis said.
Despite pre-World Cup concerns that traveling fans might fall victim to crime, the World Cup proved to be ''one of the safest periods in the history of South Africa,'' he said. ''The criminals also watch soccer: they didn't have time for crime during the World Cup.''
Brazil has a high and worsening murder rate and more than half of the estimated 15 million firearms in the country are illegal and unregistered.
But Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo insisted that World Cup visitors will feel safer traveling in Brazil next year than in Europe.
''The only time I was robbed was at an airport in Paris,'' he said. ''The president of the Olympic Public Authority was robbed in front of a hotel in London. It seems that violence is only supposed to happen in Rio, Sao Paulo and Salvador...''