RIO DE JANEIRO: Determined to rein in protests which have marred the build up and threaten to overshadow the event, Brazilian authorities have vowed to crack down hard on violence in a bid to ensure the World Cup goes off without a hitch, with just 100 days to go.
Brazil was caught out by the biggest protests in a generation last June during the Confederations Cup dress rehearsal event, which saw more than one million people take to the streets.
Some protest groups have vowed to keep on marching to protest the billions being spent on the Cup in a country whose public services need a massive overhaul.
Recent protests have been small, many Brazilians
staying away appalled at how radical anarchists known as Black Bloc have injected a violent edge into proceedings.
President Dilma Rousseff and her administration say violence is totally unacceptable and have vowed to clamp down, if necessary, by sending in the army and police trained in martial arts.
Last week, Brazil said it would deploy 150,000 police and soldiers and also bring in 20,000 private security officers across the 12 World Cup host venues to head off protesters whose slogan is ‘the Cup will not take place’.
“We will not accept this kind of thing; we must nip it in the bud,” insists Rousseff.
“Brazil is prepared to ensure the security of its citizens and visitors. If need be we shall send in the army.”
We are playing to win it: Scolari
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has been unequivocal in his aim of delivering the Cup once again; a second home failure after the 1950 nightmare defeat in the tournament decider against Uruguay is simply unthinkable.
“I took on the national side to be champion,” he said in December — repeating the mantra ever since.
At a recent Fifa workshop in southern Brazil he again stated: “We are favourites, we are at home, and we are playing to win it.”
The hosts face South Africa in Johannesburg on Wednesday then Panama and Serbia in early June final warm-ups before embarking on their World Cup campaign, where a giant nation expects 11, if not 23, men to do their duty.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2014.