FORTALEZA (AFP) – More than 500 people blocked access to a stadium where Brazil was to play Mexico on Wednesday to demand government spend more on health and education and less on the World Cup.
“Brazil, we are going to wake up, a professor is worth more than Neymar,” they shouted, referring to a popular star of the national team.
Brazil is currently hosting the Confederations Cup as a warm-up for next year’s football World Cup, but hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in recent days to denounce the events’ $15 billion price-tag.
“While you watch television, I am changing the country. Football no, we want education,” read one placard.
Brazil, which trounced Japan in the Confederations Cup opening game in Brasilia Saturday, was to face Mexico in the $240 million Novo Castelao arena in the northeastern city of Fortaleza later Wednesday.
“We are protesting the use of public funds for the construction of stadiums, money that should be used for education,” said 18-year-old Matheus Dantas, amid a sea of Brazilian flags.
“For now all is quiet, we are not going to intervene,” a policeman said.
The protesters also railed against the country’s political class, which is widely seen as corrupt.
Crack federal police units of the National Force are boosting security in the six cities hosting Confederations Cup matches during the tournament, which runs through June 30, according to the justice ministry.