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Police fire tear gas

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO - Police have fired stun grenades and tear gas to halt a march by about 200 protesters toward Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium before the World Cup match between Argentina and Bosnia.

A stand-off ensued, with banner-brandishing demonstrators massing near a police line blocking the route to Maracana yesterday.

Outnumbered both by security forces and journalists, the protesters chanted "FIFA, go back to Switzerland," referring to international soccer's governing organisation. The protesters are angry over the lavish public spending on stadiums for the World Cup while conditions in Brazil's schools and hospitals remain woeful.

Another protest occurred in the capital, Brasilia, but drew only a handful of participants, and a small protest also was held in Porto Alegre.

Mass protests broke out across Brazil during last year's Confederations Cup soccer tournament. At that time, more than one million Brazilians took to the streets in a single day in the largest demonstrations this South American nation had seen in a generation.

Still, while anger about World Cup spending remains widespread, protests that have been staged since the tournament began last week have failed to draw strong public support, generally attracting only a few hundred protesters.

A heavy presence by security forces outside Brazil's 12 World Cup venues has also helped keep demonstrations under control.

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