FIFA head Sepp Blatter lauds Confederations Cup as a 'success' despite protests, clashes

  • Article by: ROB HARRIS , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 1, 2013 - 12:26 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO — FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Monday called the Confederations Cup a success despite clashes between police and protesters near some matches.

While host nation Brazil was defeating Spain 3-0 in Sunday's final of the 2014 World Cup warmup tournament, police officers were unleashing tear gas canisters and stun grenades outside Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium.

Blatter said he was "not going to discuss" police actions to repel protests outside some of the stadiums the last two weeks.

"Thanks to all those who have helped to make this competition such a success despite ... of all this unrest and protests," Blatter said.

"I am happy to come to the conclusion now, with the sporting results and also — with at least the impression that — the social unrest is now resting. I don't know how long but it is now resting."

Many of Brazil's anti-government protesters were angered at the lack of investment in public services compared with the billions of dollars being spent on next year's World Cup.

"Football is connecting people in the stadia and connecting people outside the stadia and ... I am sure that we will have a wonderful World Cup next year," Blatter said at a news conference.

"When you have next year the World Cup, or you have the Olympic Games here (in 2016), you can never make everybody happy. We tried to make everyone happy."

The Brazilian government believes the tournament was not marred by the disorder, although Maracana Stadium workers and FIFA volunteers appeared affected by the tear gas wafting into the venue Sunday,

"I am quite sure no one was bothered because of the protests," Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said through a translator. "Of course, there were some acts of violence but we just faced these challenges. ... The problems are still there, we never try to hide this.

"We are not a perfect country. We are still a country with many unbalances, differences between the regions and these demonstrations did not happen by chance."

Jose Maria Marin, president of the local organizing committee and the Brazilian soccer confederation, condemned violent acts by some protesters.

"Any peaceful demonstration must be respected. ... It is part of democracy," Marin said. "I will not accept robbery and violence and mobs. Nobody wants this kind of thing."

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