Protesters rally before Confed Cup
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP)
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Hundreds of protesters complaining against the high cost of staging the World Cup rallied in front of the National Stadium in Brasilia just hours before Brazil played Japan in the opening match of the Confederations Cup.
Riot police were called up to keep demonstrators from getting too close to the stadium as thousands of fans arrived for the inaugural match in the nation's capital on Saturday.
There was no confrontation, but a few tear gas bombs were thrown by the police to try to control the protesters as they moved near the venue.
Nearly 500 protesters participated in the demonstration, shouting against the local government and carrying banners saying that too much money was being spent on the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup while the majority of the population continued to struggle.
''We are demanding more respect to the population,'' said 21-year-old Vinicius de Assis, one of the protesters. ''They are building these overpriced stadiums and are not worrying about the situation of their own people.''
The demonstrators also shouted against FIFA, saying that football's governing body doesn't have the right to make demands on the Brazilian government. ''FIFA, go away,'' they chanted.
The protesters also said they are being excluded from the tournaments because of the high prices of match tickets.
''This is a shame, this is our money that they used for these tournaments,'' said demonstrator Jaisson Peres. ''Millions and millions spent and we don't get anything in return.''
The local government said only about 200 demonstrators participated in the protest. It said in a statement that police used ''progressive force'' to keep the protest under control but said they would take action if needed to keep the demonstrators away from the stadium.
''Authorities will not allow any disturbance of public order or any threats against the match,'' the government said. ''It's guaranteed that fans have complete access to the stadium.''
There have been violent protests in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro these past weeks as thousands of demonstrators complained of rising bus and subway fares.
FIFA on Friday expressed ''full confidence'' that Brazilian authorities have shown they can manage disorder in the streets.