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Brazil World Cup kicks off amid protests
June 13, 2014, 5:46 am

Brazil's Oscar vies with Croatia's Darijo Srna during the opening match of 2014 FIFA World Cup in the Arena de Sao Paulo Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 12, 2014. Brazil won 3-1 over Croatia on Thursday [Xinhua]

Brazil’s Oscar vies with Croatia’s Darijo Srna during the opening match of 2014 FIFA World Cup in the Arena de Sao Paulo Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 12, 2014. Brazil won 3-1 over Croatia on Thursday [Xinhua]

A 25-minute grand ceremony in Sao Paolo on Thursday marked the opening of the 2014 World Cup hosted by Brazil.

The 68000-capacity stadium, Arena Corinthians, feted high-profile guests like UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Apart from Sao Paulo, Brazilians angered by the billions spent on hosting such extravagant sporting tournaments are organizing protests in 11 other cities co-hosting the FIFA World Cup games.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she respects the protestors choice but defended the decision to host the World Cup.

“I hear and respect those opinions but I don’t agree with them. It is a false dilemma,” Rousseff said in a televised address ahead of the opening ceremony.

Brazil is also set to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Hours before the opening match between Brazil and Croatia at the city’s Arena Corinthians, riot police in Sao Paulo on Thursday subdued a group of protesters demonstrating against what has come to be known in Brazil as World Cup of contradictions.

Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to push back the crowd, and put up barricades around the Carrao subway station to prevent protesters from reaching Radial Este Avenue, which leads to the stadium, as had been planned.

Several people were injured in the melee, including a CNN producer.

However, Sao Paulo subway workers, who had been striking since last week in demand of higher wages, decided to go back to work ahead of Thursday’s opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, Rousseff, who attended the opening game that Brazil won against Croatia 3-1, had warned that she won’t allow the “vandalism” of some to prevent the majority from enjoying the tournament.

Rousseff will begin campaigning for re-election after the World Cup for polls that are slated for October this year.

Opinion polls suggest a dip in popularity for the world’s second most powerful woman, but she is set to retain the presidency although she might face a runoff.

 

TBP and Agencies

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