(TODAY BRAZIL) BRASÍLIA, Brazil – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the Armed Forces could be deployed to break up any unruly protests during the World Cup.
Federal law enforcement officers will bolster local police units in each of the 12 cities that will host World Cup games. The tournament runs opens with Brazil facing Croatia at Arena Corinthians in São Paulo and concludes with the championship game at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.
“We will guarantee the security of fans, tourists, teams and the chiefs-of-state that will visit us,” Rousseff said during a press conference in the northeastern state of Alagoas on Feb. 19. “I am certain we will host the cup of cups.”
Rousseff’s announcement occurred after government officials in the state of Rio de Janeiro said it has established a special police unit to contain unruly protests during the World Cup. The 500 officers were pulled from police units nationwide.
Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracanã Stadium will host seven World Cup games – Argentina against Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 15, Spain versus Chile on June 18, Belgium against Russia on June 22, Ecuador against France on June 25, a second-round game on June 28, a quarterfinal on July 4 and the final on July 13.
The Confederations Cup was marred by protests last June. But the demonstrators, who were protesting against the billion spent on the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, didn’t cause any delays during the tournament and no fans or players inside the stadiums were injured.
Meantime, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke agreed that security is a major issue facing Fan Fests, which are public gatherings where games are shown on large screens – a World Cup staple.
“We are always discussing. We are open. Following what happened last June with the demonstrations, and for security issues, we are always open to move from the first location we have agreed on to the next location which is safer,” he told reporters during a visit to the city of Florianópolis in the state of Santa Catarina. “We agreed that in Brasília, the Fan Fest will not be located where we were thinking but in a new place.”
Valcke is also satisfied with the progress that’s been made to have all of the World Cup stadiums ready to host the world’s biggest soccer tournament.
He visited the Arena da Baixada in the city of Curitiba in the state of Paraná this week, saying the 40,000-seat venue will host its four games after threatening to pull the matches because the stadium’s construction had undergone a series of delays. The stadium was originally expected to be completed by December.
The venue is in a “race against a very tight timeline,” Valcke tweeted.
Arena da Baixada is scheduled to host Italy against Iran in June 16, Honduras versus Ecuador on June 20, Spain against Australia on June 23 and Algeria versus Russia on June 26.
The stadium is expected to be ready in April at the earliest, as it missed the Feb. 18 deadline set by FIFA – international soccer’s governing body – for all of the 12 World Cup stadiums to be finished.
Arena Pantanal in the city of Cuiabá in the state of Mato Grosso also likely won’t be ready until April, as a fire in October put the project behind schedule.