Brazilian government and soccer officials remain confident that widespread protests will not upset Confederations Cup matches.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (JUNE 19, 2013)(REUTERS) - The Brazilian government has not lost control of the streets, the deputy minister of communications said on Wednesday (June 19), as unrest in the country continued to overshadow the Confederations Cup.
Thousands of protesters are expected to march the three kilometres from Rio's City Hall towards the Maracana Stadium on Thursday (June 20) when world championsSpain play Tahiti in the eight-team tournament, a test event for the 2014 World Cup.
At a FIFA media briefing on Wednesday, Cesar Alvarez, the deputy minister of communications, said that the government was on top of the situation.
"We cannot let a small number of vandals disrupt the legitimate and democratic protests of a diverse country for people, this is certain. And this means also that we have to keep public order and safety for the public and private people, and guarantee means of communication such as the right of circulation and so don't want to see media buses attacked and even less public buses," he said.
Maracana stadium, one of the world's most famous soccer venues, has been rebuilt for the World Cup at a cost of 808 million reais ($400 million) and a crowd of 70,000-plus is expected for the match between Spain and the amateur Oceaniachampions ranked 138th in the world.
Saint-Clair Milesi, communications director for the local organising committee, said he was aware that the protesters were planning to walk towards Maracana. He added that local soccer officials were keeping a close eye on developments.
"Of we are concerned with the situation, but we are confident that the necessary measures will be put into place. We have to remember that the media shuttle will be working, it has been working normally and there have been demonstrations along the way before, the Maracana match was peaceful, there were no worries and the media shuttle managed to pass by, so we see at this stage the information as an isolated incident, but of course we are monitoring and working with the local authorities to see that the flow of people and the rights of protest and free speech also goes with the right to come and go. So we have to work with them, but it is not up to us make sure all those rights are upheld, but we are confident that all those measures are in place," he said.
FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said the demonstrations could potentially have an impact on the matches' broadcasts.
"You are talking about a hypothetical scenario again, I think the calls are made on case by case basis during the match as to what is shown and not shown, we will see in the next matches. But so far everything has been shown, and obviously we have to focus on what's going on on the pitch, of course, we have seen in the opening ceremony the other aspects have also been shown."
The demonstrations started as small protests in a few cities against an increase in bus and subway fares but quickly ballooned into a national movement.
The focus of the protesters has also been on the cost of staging the Confederations Cup and the World Cup with demands more money should have been invested in essential services like education, health and public transportation.