Brazil warns against disrupting Confed games
Brazil warned Monday that it will not allow ongoing nation-wide protests against higher public transportation fares and the use of public funds to disrupt international football tournaments.
"We will not allow any of these demonstrations to disrupt the events which we have pledged to host -- the Confederations Cup and (next year's) World Cup," Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said.
"The demonstrations will be tolerated within these limits," he added. "The government assumed the responsibility and the honor to stage these two international events and will do so, ensuring the security and integrity of the fans and tourists."
Protesters in several major cities are up in arms over hikes in mass transit prices -- from $1.5 to $1.6 -- as well as over the $15 billion earmarked for the two sports events amid calls for more health and education funding.
The Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup that runs through June 30, got under way in Brasilia's national stadium Saturday with Brazil trouncing Japan 3-0.
But the kick-off was marred by weekend protests outside the Brasilia stadium, as well as at the iconic Maracana arena in Rio.
In both cases, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse fans who tried to break into the stadiums. Some people were detained and others hurt.
But the worst violence occurred late Thursday in Sao Paulo, Brazil's economic capital and most populous city, when a police crackdown led to more than 230 arrests, with about 100 people, including reporters, hurt.
A new demonstration was scheduled in the city of 11 million people later Monday.
In an effort to avoid a repeat of last week, Sao Paulo public security officials met early Monday with protest organizers.
Sao Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckmin pledged that police would not use rubber bullets and would not intervene except in cases of vandalism or if provoked.
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