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Blatter: Confed Cup a ‘success’ despite unrest
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Monday declared the Confederations Cup a success despite clashes between police and protesters near some matches.
As host nation Brazil was beating Spain in Sunday’s final of the 2014 World Cup warmup tournament, police officers were using tear gas canisters and stun grenades outside Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.
Blatter said he was “not going to discuss” police actions to repel protests outside some of the grounds in Brazil over the last two weeks.
“Thanks to all those who have helped to make this competition such a success despite … of all this unrest and protests,” Blatter said. “I am happy to come to the conclusion now, with the sporting results and also _ with at least the impression that _ the social unrest is now resting. I don’t know how long, but it is now resting.”
Many of Brazil’s anti-government protesters expressed anger at the lack of investment in public services compared with the billions of dollars being spent on next year’s World Cup.
“Football is connecting people in the stadia and connecting people outside the stadia and … I am sure that we will have a wonderful World Cup next year,” Blatter said at a news conference.
“When you have next year the World Cup, or you have the Olympic Games here (in 2016), you can never make everybody happy. We tried to make everyone happy.”
Although Maracana Stadium workers and FIFA volunteers appeared to be affected by the tear gas wafting into the venue on Sunday, the Brazilian government believes the tournament was not marred by the disorder in the streets.
“I am quite sure no one was bothered because of the protests,” Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said through a translator. “Of course there were some acts of violence but we just faced these challenges … the problems are still there, we never try to hide this.
“We are not a perfect country. We are still a country with many unbalances, differences between the regions and these demonstrations did not happen by chance.”
Jose Maria Marin, president of the local organizing committee and the Brazilian football confederation, condemned violent acts by some protesters.
“Any peaceful demonstration must be respected … it is part of democracy,” Marin said. “I will not accept robbery and violence and mobs _ nobody wants this kind of thing.”
Former Brazil star Ronaldo, a member of Marin’s organizing committee, praised protesters for helping to draw pledges from the government to invest in public services.
“I fully support the demonstrations,” Ronaldo said. “Brazilians are not against the World Cup or the Confederations Cup. They are against corruption, embezzlement; they are against the way the health system has been managed, the way the education system has been managed.
“It has been wonderful to see Brazilians really rise against this situation and to see most demonstrations have been peaceful and asking for change in Brazil … we have already seen the results of it because things seem to be moving forward swiftly and the government seems to be responding to the people’s calls.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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