A major soccer conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was called off due to ongoing civil unrest. Brazil hosts the 2014 World Cup, and this is the latest setback for FIFA and the World Cup organizers.
Protesters marred the Confederations Cup, a World Cup warmup. The protests are smaller in size, but at one point one million people showed up. They are not leaving and are growing more violent. Many wish the country would use the money for the World Cup on the citizens instead, and protesters are speaking out against mainly the poor public services, high taxes and lavish spending on the World Cup.
The Rio government is downplaying the protests. State Secretariat said the city is capable of securing any event in the city. Brazil soccer star Ronaldo said the cancellation was an overreaction.
“The people are going out onto the streets to show their displeasure about how they were treated for so long, so they wanted change,” Ronaldo said through a translator at the London briefing.
He said canceling the event exaggerated the threat, and said the World Cup would help Brazil.
“I am in favor of any nonviolent protests,” Ronaldo added. “Brazilians are tired of being ignored for so many years and want the government to respond to that weariness.”
However, the anarchist group Black Bloc promised to cause mayhem during the World Cup. In October, a member of the group told The London Times they believe the entire event is a waste of money since there are millions in poverty. Professors and analysts said people trust the group because they view the police as the enemy. Brazil has the seventh-highest homicide rate and only 8% of reported crimes are resolved. The people also do not understand or see how the World Cup will help them. Soccer is very popular in Brazil, but the majority of the citizens cannot afford tickets the some of the marquee games.