By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – For the 2014 FIFA World Cup opening match in Brazil, the day started with protests, but ended with samba. Protesters were up early on Thursday to denounce the high costs of the 2014 World Cup in several of the host cities. The number of people protesting was not as large as some predicted, but in at least three cities police had to use tear gas and rubber bullets to contain the demonstrators.
In São Paulo protesters closed two metro stations and tried to close one of the main venues going to the stadium where Brazil kicked of the World Cup against Croatia. In the confrontations five journalists were hurt including two members from CNN covering the events.
In Rio de Janeiro a group of close to 1,000 protesters blocked streets in the center of the city creating havoc among those going to work. The demonstration became violent during the early afternoon and police threw tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Most of the violence was concentrated in the Lapa region.
Demonstrators turned over a police car and a Reuters photographer suffered a head injury in Belo Horizonte, where close to three hundred protesters gathered in the center of town. Protesters threw firebombs while police tried to disperse the crowd with gas bombs. At least one police officer was hurt.
Small groups of demonstrators also took to the streets in Porto Alegre, Fortaleza and Brasilia to protests against the abusive costs of the World Cup. According to Laurence Allan, Head of Latin America Analysis IHS Country Risk, it is still too early to say how these demonstrations will affect the Games and the country. “Next week when the event is in full flow we will be able to gauge how disruptive industrial action is likely to be” said Allan.
With the 3 to 1 win over Croatia, however, Brazilians and tourists took to the streets to celebrate the start of the competition, peacefully.
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