RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The recent outbreak of deadly violence in the heart of Rio de Janeiro will not compromise the World Cup, FIFA's secretary general pledged Friday.
Speaking at a news conference just days after the clashes, Jerome Valcke insisted there's not a country on Earth where the World Cup could be hosted without the specter of violence and insisted the June 12-July 13 tournament in Brazil would be safe.
"What has happened in Rio does not put at risk the organization of the World Cup for FIFA, at all," he said. "I'm sure that the safety of the World Cup . will be at the highest level for all people involved."
The clashes at the Pavao-Pavaozinho slum broke out late Tuesday after the discovery of the body of a dancer on a popular television show. Many of the slum dwellers blamed the police for the man's death, and the ensuing confrontation between residents and police officers engulfed the hillside slum and spilled down into the high-rent Copacabana neighborhood. Firefights rang out, and police detonated deafening stun grenades sprayed clouds of tear gas as residents hurled glass bottles and other projectiles. Another man was killed in the mayhem, apparently by a bullet to the head.
Sandwiched between two of Rio's most touristy and priciest neighborhoods, Pavao-Pavaozinho is also near the site of FIFA's Fan Fest, an outdoor screening area on Copacabana beach that will allow non-ticket holders to follow the World Cup matches.