Brazilians demonstrate near soccer stadium

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Protestors face riot squad officers on a street near Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

RIO DE JANEIRO: Protesters hurling petrol bombs clashed with riot police as the curtain came down on the violence-plagued Confederations Cup on Sunday (Monday in Manila) with host nation Brazil downing world champions Spain in the final.

A fiesta of football inside Rio’s iconic Maracana Stadium saw Brazil triumph 3-0 over Spain to seal their third title in a row, but the last day of the tournament saw no let-up in the protests that have taken place throughout the event.

More than a million Brazilians had taken to the streets during the tournament, venting anger at the estimated $15 billion being spent on both the Confederations Cup and World Cup while bemoaning the South American country’s public services.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff—who was booed when she appeared alongside FIFA President Sepp Blatter at the opening game in Brasilia two weeks ago—declined to attend Sunday’s final at the Maracana.


Instead Rousseff, whose popularity has plunged since the start of the unrest, issued a congratulatory message to the victorious Brazilian team.

“In this memorable campaign, our athletes showed joy, creativity, team spirit and unity which conquered all Brazilians and they offered the world a great spectacle.

“Today I joined all Brazilians in celebrating this great victory,” said Rousseff.

Before kick-off outside the stadium a small group of hooded protesters, some armed with screwdrivers and slingshots, lit a fire on the street and hurled stones at police who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets as helicopters circled overhead.

“Unfortunately, the incidents were started by protesters who hurled makeshift bombs and stones at police,” Henrique Guelber of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, told the G1 news website.

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