Brazil has called up 170,000 security forces to handle crazy World Cup soccer fans, but also because of protest threats by those unhappy that Brazil spent billions on the tournament and not the citizens.
President Dilma Rousseff told the army to help the police at the hotels and camps for all 32 countries. Thirty extra troops will be present for the opening game between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday, June 12. Nearly 2,000 private guards are assigned to the stadium and the government have 700 waiting in the wings if needed.
Brazil was awarded the tournament seven years ago and protests by residents hit full force in 2013. The anarchist group Black Bloc threatened to disrupt at least one game.
“FIFA lies to us, it is all money laundering. The people get nothing out of it,” one member told The London Times in October. “They’ve spent millions on stadiums and have a law saying they don’t have to disclose how much they spend. FFIA will rule this country for the time of the World Cup. The World Cup is absurd. It will be a focus for us and we will fight it.”
Soccer matches in Brazil can be deadly, too. From USA Today:
The most jarring headline came when an amateur soccer match turned ugly in Pio XII, Maranhão, a rural city in northern Brazil. The referee stabbed a player–who later died–when he refused to leave the field. Angry fans stormed the field, stoned the referee to death, decapitated him and placed his head on a stick. Brazilians did not dismiss the incident, but said a gruesome crime in a remote part of the country should not be seen as representative of security in the major cities.
Reuters India reported, “A record 30 people died in soccer-related violence last year in Brazil, the highest in the world after Argentina and Italy, according to data compiled by Brazilian researcher Mauricio Murad.”
Brazil is closing down the borders due to threats from Argentina. These fans are known as “barras bravas” and very violent. About 50,000 fans from Argentina are expected at the tournament and Brazil is preparing for anything.
Brazil owns a list with over 2,000 names of notorious “barras bravas” and they hope to stop them at the Argentine border. But Brazil also needs to worry about English fans. England shares an intense rivalry with Argentina–the countries warred in the early 1980s over the Falklands–but the only time they would meet is the final. Also, Britain holds laws that make it hard for troublemakers to leave the country plus the cost of travel might be too much for some people.
The World Cup kicks off on Thursday, June 12 between Brazil and Croatia at 4PM ET on ESPN.