Hours before the start of the World Cup, police and protestors clash in Sao Paulo. The conflict injured at least five people.
According to The Associated Press, 100 people gathered in the city. Though smaller than what most expected, the crowd was large enough to cause chaos. Police unleashed tear gas into the crowd. From the AP:
Live TV images showed Sao Paulo police unleashing tear gas and stun grenades on the protesters as they moved to block a main road leading to the stadium where the Cup opening match will be played, with Brazil taking on Croatia.
Two CNN journalists were injured in the clash, the network said on its website.
A tear gas canister injured one journalist’s hand. The AP could not verify the severity of her injury. The people dispersed, but returned two hours later and threw rocks at the police and set trash on fire.
Brazil won the bid seven years ago, but the soccer loving country has not welcomed it with open arms. Brazil spent $11.3 billion on the tournament and many wish the money went to education, hospitals, and other social services. The anarchist group Black Bloc promised to disrupt at least one game. Brazil also spread themselves thin by adding four host cities to the usual eight, which meant they reached out to second-tier cities who cannot handle the world’s most popular sporting event. Projects remain unfinished and most never left the drawing board.
The huge arena in Sao Paulo went $150 million over budget and Thursday’s game between Brazil and Croatia will be the first full capacity test, which violates FIFA’s protocol. The arena could only host 40,000 fans for a pregame due to unfinished bleachers and fire codes not tested. The arena is supposed to hold over 60,000.
The subway strike in Sao Paulo is not much of a concern anymore, but the airport workers caused major problems on Thursday morning. A dozen workers blocked a highway that leads to the Rio de Janeiro airport and caused a major traffic jam.
The first game airs Thursday at 4PM ET on ESPN between Brazil and Croatia.