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Brazil sports minister slams World Cup demonstrators

Saturday, March 15, 2014

BRASILIA - Brazil's Minister for Sport Aldo Rebelo yesterday criticised anti-World Cup demonstrators, insisting they would not disrupt the tournament starting June 12.

Brazil has witnessed months of protests against the estimated $US11 billion ($A12.28 billion) price-tag for the tournament, with demonstrators saying the money would have better spent on improving poor public services.

Noting protesters often chant "there will be no Cup," Rebelo told foreign correspondents in Brasilia that everyone should get behind the five-time champions' first hosting of the event in 64 years.

"I do not believe the campaigns will have an effect (of derailing the organisation) or that there will be large demonstrations against the Cup," Rebelo insisted.

"The big demonstration will be one of celebration of the Cup," he forecast, criticising "sections of the media, who think they can offer space (to cover) this kind of ill will," an allusion to the protest marches.

Recent protests have been small but some have turned violent with anarchist groups known as Black Bloc clashing with police.

Rebelo said he believed most people would back the tournament.

"The population will protect the Cup. The World Cup is a feast of world football which protects itself," said Rebelo, drawing a parallel with the just-ended Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where political protests faded once the event began.

Rebelo also insisted that the three stadiums which are not yet complete — Cuiaba, Curitiba and June 12 opening match venue Sao Paulo — will be ready in time, despite severe delays.

"Measures have been adopted to boost the pace of work and we are banking on delivery of the stadiums not just (in time for) the Cup but also for test events, which are important," he said.

Cuiaba is set for an April 2 inauguration with Sao Paulo, scene of a fatal accident which killed two workers in November, set for April l5.

Curitiba, having just avoided being cut from the venue list, is due to follow in early May.

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