Police fire tear gas at protesters marching toward Maracana in Rio
Police fired stun grenades and tear gas to halt a march by about 200 protesters toward the stadium ahead of Sunday’s World Cup match between Argentina and Bosnia.
A standoff ensued, with banner-brandishing demonstrators massing near a police line blocking the route to Maracana.
Outnumbered both by security forces and journalists, the protesters chanted ”FIFA, go back to Switzerland,” referring to international soccer’s governing organization. The protesters are angry over the lavish public spending on stadiums for the World Cup while conditions in Brazil’s schools and hospitals remain woeful.
Another protest occurred in the capital, Brasilia, but drew only a handful of participants, and a small protest also was held in Porto Alegre.
Mass protests broke out across Brazil during last year’s Confederations Cup soccer tournament. At that time, more than 1 million Brazilians took to the streets in a single day in the largest demonstrations this South American nation had seen in a generation.
Still, while anger about World Cup spending remains widespread, protests that have been staged since the tournament began last week have failed to draw strong public support, generally attracting only a few hundred protesters.
A heavy presence by security forces outside Brazil’s 12 World Cup venues has also helped keep demonstrations under control.