Protests in Fortaleza gather pace prior to Brazil-Mexico clash

With the next round of Confederations Cup matches just hours away, demonstrations have increased near the ground, adding to disruptions in other cities over government spending
By Eric Gomez in Fortaleza

Anti-World Cup demonstrators in the city of Fortaleza have taken to the streets in their thousands, with less than six hours to go before Brazil's second Confederations Cup match against Mexico.

Alberto Craveiro Avenue, the main artery connecting the beachfront city to the newly-renovated Castelaostadium, is lined with protesters, forcing local police to issue a blockade of vehicles attempting to reach the arena in both directions.

Protests in the streets but support from the stands
"World Cup will not solve Brazil's social problem"
After a hike in transportation fees was announced by the government, thousands across the South American nation have taken to the streets to protest what they perceive as government mismanagement, with funds and public works intended to benefit the country beyond the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup.

On Tuesday, a day in which protests in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and other cities took on tinges of violence as clashes with police were reported, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff called her nation "a stronger country" because of the protests.

"This is evidence of the strength of our democracy," Rousseff stated via a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Luis Fernandes, deputy minister of sport, assured foreign media that there is "widespread support" for the Confederations Cup, World Cup and the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Brazil defeated Japan 3-0 in Brasilia on Saturday, and a victory over Mexico on Wednesday  evening would all but ensure qualification to the semi-finals.