The nationwide protests that began with the opening of the FIFA Confederations Cup reached a crescendo last night, the AP claims, as more than 1 million protesters took to the streets in more than 80 cities across Brazil, with several reports of violent clashes with police. However, despite the widespread demonstrations, FIFA said it has no plans to cancel the tournament.
One of the triggering factors behind the protests is the fact that public funds have been used to build and renovate the stadiums for next year’s World Cup, when the government had initially promised that private investors would share the burden. Meanwhile, protestors are demanding that the government spend more money on healthcare, education and infrastructure. All in all, the government is projecting that $13.3 billion will be spent on stadiums, airport renovations and other projects for the World Cup, with an estimated $3.5 billion on venues.
"We want hospitals and schools in FIFA standards," read one banner outside the Maracana Stadium in Rio on Thursday ahead of Spain's match against Tahiti. Meanwhile, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has urged protesters not to "use soccer to make their demands heard."