Protesters hold ‘fake’ draw in Rio

A small group of protesters gathered outside Rio’s famous

Maracana stadium – the site of next year’s World Cup final – to

criticize the cost of staging the event and accuse politicians and

FIFA of profiting at the expense of Brazilian taxpayers.

The protest, termed the ”World Cup Anti-Draw” took place

Friday as the actual draw was held 1,400 kilometers (850 miles)

north in the coastal resort of Costa do Sauipe.

The billions being spent to stage the World Cup and the 2016 Rio

de Janeiro Olympics have triggered sporadic protests across

Brazil.

The grievances have united groups opposing everything from high

taxes and soaring costs, to forced relocations of the poor living

in favelas (slums) to make way for World Cup- and Olympic-related

projects.

Friday’s gathering was light-hearted. Protesters held a fake

draw ceremony, chanted slogans as they pulled plastic balls from a

bowl, and ridiculed local politicians and FIFA.

”The people are the big losers,” said Demian Castro, a

spokesman for an activist group that organized the event. ”All of

us are living in cities that are getting more expensive. The World

Cup has driven up the cost of living.”

This one was tiny, but Brazilian authorities and FIFA are

preparing for large and persistent protests during the World Cup,

which opens June 12 in Sao Paulo and ends July 13 in Rio de

Janeiro.

Violent street protests took place six months ago throughout the

Confederations Cup – the warm-up for the World Cup – and grew in

intensity with 1 million taking to the streets in a single day.

Six people died in connection with the demonstrations with

police and soldiers routinely using tear gas, rubber bullets and

shock grenades to break up crowds.

Brazilian authorities are spending about $3.5 billion to build

or renovate 12 stadiums, four of which are likely to become white

elephants after the tournament.