BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke expressed confidence Monday that Brazil's continuing violent demonstrations won't impact the World Cup. He also said he is counting on police to keep protesters seeking to disrupt the tournament at bay.
Anti-government protests hit a fever pitch last June during the Confederations Cup, with around a million people pouring into the streets on a single night demanding better schools, hospitals and an end to corruption. There also were bitter complaints about the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup.
The demonstrations have shrunk in size in recent months but remain violent, with protesters clashing with police and carrying out vandalism in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. A TV cameraman was recently killed in Rio after being hit in the head with a flare allegedly fired by a protester.
Despite the continuing incidents, Valcke said he's not worried that soccer's premier event will face significant issues, telling a media conference "we are expecting a quiet World Cup and we are expecting that whoever wants to be at the World Cup will have the right to do so."
No matches were delayed during last year's Confederations Cup, although protests raged near the stadiums on several occasions. Police maintained a security ring that mostly kept protesters at bay, although on a few occasions groups did break through.
More demonstrations are certain during this year's World Cup, but Valcke insists the tournament's importance will outshine protests.
"We are sure that the World Cup is too big an event for any country around the world not to support its organization," Valcke said. "I'm not saying to support FIFA, that's not the point, (but) to support the organization of these games in a country in 12 host cities."