RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (JUNE 21, 2013)(REUTERS) - World soccer body FIFA said on Friday (June 21) that it condemns any form of violence in the Brazil protests after sweeping demos were marred by clashes and rioting.
FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola addressed the issue in the organization's daily Confederations Cup briefing, one day after an estimated one million people took to the streets in cities across the country. The protests, now in their second week, have been about high taxes, inflation, corruption and poor pubic services and have also targeted the $26 billion of public money being spent on the World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
"Allow us please to answer," said Odriozola said after journalists questioned how FIFA could distance itself from the protests when people were carrying banners against them. "What we have said, and in the statement we have stated that, we condemn any form of violence, any form of violence."
The demonstrations had been largely non-violent and comprised mostly middle-class, well-educated people. However, they have come to be characterized by violent outbursts as smaller groups clashed with police using tear gas, pepper spray and at times rubber bullets.
FIFA has not discussed the possibility of canceling the Confederations Cup, Odriozola said, despite it being overshadowed by the protests sweeping through all the cities being used in the Confederations Cup. He said FIFA's stance also applied to the World Cup.
"Just like for the Confederations Cup, there has not been any discussion between either FIFA nor the local organising committee nor the government, about this theme, neither for the Confederations Cup not the World Cup," said Odriozola.
CBN radio and the website of the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, both respected, mainstream Brazilian media, carried reports earlier on Friday speculating that the eight-team tournament, considered a dry run for next year's World Cup, was in danger.
"I'll answer it this way, I am not sure that anybody, probably not the media, probably not the local organising committee and probably not FIFA, was expecting something like this," Odriozola went on.
Local Organising Committee Spokesman Saint Clair Milesi said preparation is a key priority.
"I would just add that on the operation side and security measures, you have to think of many scenarios, but we never hoped for this to happen, but we have to be prepared for everything," he said.
The Estado said that FIFA was negotiating with the teams to try to persuade them to stay, although FIFA said this was not true. CBN said "the protests in the streets of Brazilian cities have forced FIFA to negotiate with the teams to keep them in the Confederations Cup,".
FIFA confirmed the incident but said the vehicles were empty and parked in the street when the windows were smashed.
"In regard to Salvador, what we received was a report that the bus was, they don't know if it was a stone or not, but hit and damaged, but also, coming back to the... it's a reflection of what is happening, other vehicles were attacked, the FIFA bus, the bus that was being serviced for FIFA and the LOC was there, it happened to be on the way, on the path where this incident occurred, so we don't see a direct attack on us, but other property was damaged along the way. And for the hotel we don't have a report of any invasions or anything in the hotels," said Milesi.