By Kris Voakes in the Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has insisted that his team are not willing to abandon the Confederations Cup despite being confined to their hotel amid escalating social unrest in Brazil.
Mass demonstrations across the host country have resulted in violent clashes, with the Azzurri squad having been increasingly caught up in the problems since leaving Rio de Janeiro after their opening Group A fixture against Mexico.
But as Prandelli’s side get set to face Brazil on Saturday in Salvador, the coach has quelled fears that the Italians could decide to return home before the tournament is completed.
“Going back home is something we are not thinking about at all,” Prandelli told a press conference on Friday. “Of course in the last few days the situation has changed because while we were in Rio, everything was fine, we went around the city without any problems.
“Then in Recife [where Italy played against Japan] and here in Salvador, because of the problems we have not been able to leave our hotel, so we are concerned. But have we thought about going home? Absolutely not.”
Rumours in the Brazilian press had suggested that members of the FIGC (Italian FA) had approached Fifa regarding the possibility of the team returning to Italy, but Prandelli insists that eventuality has not been broached.
“Our board have not proposed going back home to Fifa officials. Of course, we as sports people would like to see a football match tomorrow and provide happiness to the supporters, and we hope not to see people protest outside the stadium, because that would be a complete contradiction,” the former Fiorentina coach added.
Despite the heightened security around his squad, Prandelli said he is keen to see the Brazilian people defend their rights so long as it is done in a civil way.
“All demonstrations, if they are peaceful, can foster the improvement of a country, and they are welcome,” he continued.
“But when they turn violent then of course they worry us and the concern now is that there are now so many people that it is difficult to control those who do not want to demonstrate in a civil manner. Now, looking at the images, we see they have moved from 15,000 or 30,000 people to a million people, so that is worrying.”
The clash between Italy and Brazil, which kicks off at 21:00CET on Saturday, will determine the winners of Group A following 100 per cent starts for both teams.