7 Jun 2014

Unrest continues in Brazil ahead of World Cup

There were scuffles yesterday – not so much protests as a workers strike.

Subway workers in São Paulo clashed with police in a tube station – it must be said the pictures were fairly unpleasant – police apparently firing tear gas and being very heavy handed.

Is this a World Cup protest?  Absolutely not.  Can it be separated from the World Cup? Absolutely not.

People in Brazil are crazy about football – but at the same time many are unhappy that their government has spent so much when wages aren’t rising fast enough against the cost of living.  The point bring São Paulos tube workers want a salary increase and they know this is the time to make a song and dance about it.

That said Brazil played last night in their final warm up game, in São Paulo, and it passed off entirely peacefully.

The prognosis re protests is this, if Brazil do well, this country will be hosting a party for the next month. Consider the following, there’s a parody fanfest in Rio where critics of the cup can gather to vent their ire at FIFA. The Brazil game was being broadcast on a big screen – but with the sound turned down.  When Fred scored Brazils only – and winning- goal of last night’s game against Serbia, the “protestors” cheered.  The selecao are still their boys, after all.

But If Brazil bomb, the protests may well gather pace.  An opinion poll this week from a respected agency suggested that 61 per cent of Brazilians think the World Cup is bad for their country, and the money could have been spent on schools, hospitals and public services.

 Follow Keme Nzerem on Twitter: @nzerem_c4