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Jan 3, 2014

Brazil creates World Cup riot force

After the disturbing images of fans fighting during a Brazilian match were shown world-wide, the secretary of security for major events, insists there will be no problems with safety in stadiums during the 2014 World Cup.

SAO PAULO -- Officials in Brazil have created a special "riot force" to help police control the demonstrations expected to be staged during the World Cup later this year.

Col. Alexandre Augusto Aragon, who heads the elite National Security Force, was quoted in local news reports on Friday as saying 10,000 riot troops selected from state police forces throughout Brazil will be deployed in the 12 cities hosting World Cup games from 12 June to 13 July.

"We've have been concerned with this [security during the World Cup] before the protests that took place last year, because we don't wait around for things to happen," he told the G1 Internet portal. "The violence of recent protests is what scared us."

Representatives for the Justice Ministry, which oversees the National Security Force, could not immediately be reached for comment.

At the peak of last year's protests, a million people took to the streets across Brazil in a single day, demonstrating against problems including higher bus fares, corruption and poor public services, and voicing anger at the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"There will be no World Cup," became one of the mass movement's most widely-heard chants, while "FIFA go home" was another.

Many of the demonstrations coincided with the Confederations Cup, a warm-up tournament for the World Cup.

Jerome Valcke, the leading FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, said recently that the tournament would have "the highest level of security you can imagine".

He said he had been satisfied with the police response during the protests that affected the six Confederations Cup host cities. The tournament went on as scheduled, and none of the matches were disrupted.

The Black Bloc anarchist movement has announced plans for protests against the World Cup, starting with the opening match in Sao Paulo.

A Facebook page for the group listed demonstrations for 13 June in Natal, Salvador and Cuiaba, followed by six more protests in six cities on the two following days.

Authorities in Brazil have said they have learned from the demonstrations during the Confederations Cup and will not let protesters get too close to stadiums during the World Cup.

In December, Andrei Augusto Rodrigues, the head of security for major events at the Justice Ministry, acknowledged that police had misjudged the threat to public safety at Rio de Janeiro in June at the final of the Confederations Cup.

Officers used tear gas against protesters outside the Maracana Stadium, where the final was held. Clouds of tear gas wafted towards the stadium as protesters got within 200 meters of the stadium.

Rodrigues said police would keep demonstrators further away from stadiums during the World Cup.

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