'World Cup will not solve Brazil's social problems'

Campaigners staged their latest protest today against the Brazilian government's decision to spend millions hosting next summer's finals. Kris Voakes reports from Brasilia.
By Kris Voakes in Brasilia

One of the men behind the protests that have overshadowed the start of the Confederations Cup has attacked the Brazilian government for allegedly squandering money on football stadia that would have been better spent on solving the country's socio-economic problems.

In the latest public demonstration against state spending, 3,000 people gathered outside the Mane Garrincha Stadium - the venue for the tournament-opening clash between the hosts and Japan - in Brasilia on Saturday to voice their fury over a public transport price hike.

Ciro Naum, who helped to organise the protest, says that the Brazilian people are upset that so much taxpayer's money has been used to redevelop or construct stadia for the Confederations Cup, and next year's World Cup.

“In Sao Paulo, the government raised the bus prices, so we are protesting because people don’t have the money for this change in the economy," he told Goal.

"The other point is the World Cup. Each seat in this stadium cost R$7,000 (approximately €2,500), which is just so expensive when we have so little money in our health, security and education systems.

"People are so poor, so you need to focus on other things - not the World Cup.

"So much money has been spent on this stadium that we do not have money for the health and the public transportation."

Naum then attacked the Brazilian government over their alleged greed-fuelled desire to cater to the every whim of Fifa, the game's governing body.

“The problem is a Brazilian problem, because Fifa has money and they can manipulate everyone with that money," he claimed.

"The money has changed the idea of the Brazilian government, so they do whatever they want. Everything is about money.

"You have a beautiful picture of Brazil, of big roads etc, but we have a lot of problems in the hospitals and in education and public transport.

"But the government spends money on the World Cup instead of on what matters.

“It is a fact that Brazilians love football. A fact. But this love, this passion, cannot solve social problems.”

Meanwhile, local government have confirmed that police used "progressive force" to keep the demonstration under control and have insisted protesters have been kept away from the ground.

"Authorities will not allow any disturbance of public order or any threats against the match," a government statement revealed. "It's guaranteed that fans have complete access to the stadium."

Brazil last hosted the World Cup in 1950.