Brazil braces for 2014 FIFA World Cup carnival


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But even though more Brazilians are sporting the yellow jersey of star forward Neymar, discontent continues to bubble.

Scattered protests are planned in several host cities during the tournament.

And while Sao Paulo subway workers late Wednesday voted against a repeat of the strike which plunged the city into gridlocked paralysis last week, airport workers in Rio were planning a partial 24-hour walkout.

‘We’re Brazilian and we continue to root for Brazil, but it’s our duty to fight for workers rights,’ union leader Rui Pessoa said.

The multi-billion-dollar cost of the World Cup has angered many in a country which has chronically under-funded health and public services and violent crime.

Rage at poor public services morphed into a nationwide movement during last year’s Confederations Cup test event, with deadly clashes rippling across the nation.

For the World Cup, a vast security blanket is being deployed, with 150 000 soldiers and police on duty along with 20 000 private security officers.

Brazil’s leader Dilma Rousseff warned that her government will not tolerate a repeat of last year’s protests.

‘We will guarantee the security of Brazilians and of those who come visit us,’ she said.

Football’s governing body FIFA begins the tournament under mounting pressure over allegations of corruption linked to its decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has responded to the scandals by shoring up his power base.

On Wednesday he signalled his intention to seek a fifth four-year term next year, despite calls for him to step down.

‘My mandate will finish next year but my mission is not finished,’ he said to boos from sections of the FIFA Congress.

For all the off-field problems dogging the build-up the tournament itself has the makings of a classic.

Reigning champions Spain are bidding to make history by becoming the first side from Europe to win a World Cup in South America, which last hosted the tournament in 1978.

Vicente del Bosque’s side have dominated international football for the past six years, winning two consecutive European championships either side of their 2010 World Cup triumph.

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