14 June 2014, 20:33

Protesters cause minor damage to FIFA's headquarters

Protesters cause minor damage to FIFA's headquarters

About 150 protesters gathered outside FIFA's headquarters in Zurich on Saturday with banners criticizing the ruling body's management of the World Cup in Brazil, causing minor damage to the building. FIFA's reputation has been tarnished by allegations of corruption and its running of the tournament which started on Thursday has also been criticized.

"Around 150 people have taken part in the unauthorized demonstration," Michael Wirz, spokesman for the Zurich police, told Reuters. "The event was peaceful overall with nobody injured, but there was some minor damage to the building," he said.

Pictures published on the website of Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten showed masked protesters smearing the signpost outside the building with red paint and agitating banners of left-wing youth organizations.

Activist website Indymedia.ch had posted a call to protest under the slogan: "We love football, we hate FIFA". The protests should be seen as a sign of solidarity with people in Brazil who had been driven from their homes to make space for stadiums, Indymedia.ch said.

Salvador Cup demonstration: police fire tear gas at protesters, dozens arrested

Brazilian police made eleven arrests and used tear gas to disperse anti-World Cup demonstrators Friday in the northeastern city of Salvador.

Military police told AFP the arrests had been for "vandalism" in the city located just five kilometers (three miles) from the Fonte Nova stadium where the Netherlands beat reigning champions Spain in their opening group match.

Some protesters threw stones at vehicles on display at automobile dealers and also cars parked in the streets, according to police.

Online news portal G1 indicated some 100 protesters angry at the $11 billion cost of the World Cup attended the demonstration. Police declined to give a figure.

Thursday saw smaller anti-World Cup demonstrations of a few hundred people each in six of the 12 host cities before Brazil scored a 3-1 victory in the tournament's opening game in Sao Paulo.

Preparations for the event were marred by the late delivery of several stadiums and facilities as well as by dozens of demonstrations, some of them violent.

Many Brazilians say the World Cup cash would have been better directed at poor public services and on upgrading poor public health, education and transport.

Last year saw more than a million people nationwide take to the streets in anti-Cup marches during the Confederations Cup dress rehearsal event.

But the protests of recent days have been small and millions of Brazilians donned the yellow and green national colors ahead of the Croatia game as a party atmosphere finally broke out across the country.

Tear gas and fireworks: Brazil World Cup off to a bang

It was a day of contrasts in Brazil as the country opened the World Cup with clashes between riot police and protesters in Sao Paulo, before wild street celebrations when the "Seleção Brasileira" beat Croatia 3-1 after coming from behind.

The fireworks that exploded over the mega-city after each goal for Brazil made the tear gas and clashes just up the road from Corinthians Arena seem so much more distant.

Bars overflowed with people into the streets. Pharmacists switched their stores' televisions to the game. Fuel station workers sat on plastic chairs, watching a flat-screen TV tied to the back of a car.

After months of violent protests over the $11 billion cost of hosting the World Cup, some who watched the victory with 300 others in a Sao Paulo street bedecked in yellow and green banners voiced hope such victories could tame the street rage, informed AFP.

"This joy will be a contagion that will spread to all Brazilians," Jonathan de Jesus Silva, 21, a nursing student wearing a Brazil jersey, said as he jumped and laughed with friends.

"This happiness will help bring a better climate."

Vera Lucia, 53, a bank worker wearing a yellow top, said it was time for Brazilians to rally behind the tournament.

"The victory will improve the mood a bit. I'm against opportunistic protests. Now is not the time to protest during an international event. The problems like bad hospitals date from before the World Cup," she said.

Others, in a packed bar in the capital Brasilia, agreed.

"Despite the complaints and the protests, the Brazilian people believe a lot in football. Here we are, all supporting the team," said Vanessa Silva, a 31-year-old banker wearing a yellow and green scarf - the national team colors.

Fireworks also exploded over Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach as throngs watched the game on big screens in the streets of the city.

At the famed beach itself, thirsty fans were heaven-sent for entrepreneurs as thousands massed at the fan fest there.

"We're doing great business today - and we can watch the action on the big screen so we're not missing anything," Carla De Freitas, running a makeshift bar with husband Antonio, told AFP.

"I reckon we shall take more than 2,000 reais ($850) today. That compares, for example, to a Saturday or Sunday when we'd normally take home around 200. All in all, a good day's work!"

Before the game, around 1,000 protesters sought to revive the momentum of the million-strong demonstrations that shook Brazil last year during the Confederations Cup - a World Cup dress rehearsal - shouting "FIFA go home!"

Later, a few dozen protesters went around Rio taunting those watching the game, chanting "there won't be a cup" and shouting obscenities when Brazil scored.

In the evening, a few demonstrators fleeing police after trying to burn rubbish bins were hit by riot police with truncheons.

Earlier, in Sao Paulo, clashes forced the Brazilian team bus to change its route to the stadium after riot police chased a dozen protesters down a busy avenue, firing tear gas at incoming traffic. Cars bedecked in Brazilian flags swerved to avoid the trouble.

Large groups of fans who had lined the street to see their heroes left disappointed.

Riot police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse a few dozen radical, masked protesters known as the Black Bloc who were tossing rocks and set trash bags on fire in the street.

Between rounds of tear gas, a man stuck his head out of his apartment window and shouted a message capturing the divide troubling Brazil on the big kick-off: "Today there will be a Cup!"

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