Brazil protests have prompted FIFA to reiterate that the Confederations Cup will not be canceled, but fears over the future of the World Cup in 2014 are intensifying.
The warm-up event to the World Cup 2014 was reportedly in danger of being canceled. Several news outlets said the Brazil protests that reached one million people would cause FIFA to call off the eight-team tournament, keeping away elite squads like Spain and Italy and putting the World Cup itself in jeopardy.
FIFA has denied those rumors.
“To date, neither FIFA nor the [local organizing committee] have ever discussed any such possibility,” a FIFA spokesperson said.
The statement did little to quell fears that the growing unrest could threaten soccer’s biggest event, the World Cup. Protests in Brazil have expended to several cities as unrest with the government grows. Protesters have spoken out against high taxes, inflation, and a lack of public services at the same time that government is pouring money into the World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics.
Though the government made concessions in the hopes of stopping the protests, the unrest only continued to grow. Police in the northeast cities of Fortaleza and Salvador fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters. In Salvador protesters targeted FIFA’s hotel, breaking several windows.
In Rio, protesters descended on a concert aimed at showcasing the Confederations Cup. The crowd reportedly chanted, “There will not be a World Cup!”
“Those responsible for the 2014 World Cup thought they could do what they wanted and that no one would do anything,” said Amir Somoggi, a finance and marketing consultant who works with football clubs in Brazil, to Time magazine. “But this popular uprising shows that we are changing. Could it have come earlier? Yes. But it’s never too late to highlight the joke that is ridiculous public investment in stadium with little concern for public opinion.”
As the Brazil protests rage on, FIFA has maintained that the World Cup is not in danger, but within the country trouble has appeared. At least five of the cities picked to host games said they won’t have the promised bus lines, underground, and tram lines ready in time.