Brazil protests: Fifa insist Confederations Cup will continue despite widening World Cup demonstrations

A million people have taken to the streets in anti-government demonstrations
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Fifa insist the Confederations Cup in Brazil will continue despite protests that have overshadowed the World Cup warm-up event.

Local media claimed that the eight team competition, which includes Spain and Italy as well as the hosts, could be abandoned due to the protests which an estimated one million people attended across cities in Brazil yesterday.

However, a Fifa spokesman today said: "To date, neither Fifa nor the LOC (local organising committee) have ever discussed any such possibility."

Whether the tournament continues or not, the unrest in the country and even the prospect that it could be abandoned raise huge concerns ahead of next year's World Cup.

The most watched tournament in the world will see 32 teams rather than eight descending on Brazil and more stadiums will be in use, raising potentially greater logistical issues should protests erupt again in 12 months time.

Thursday saw the country's biggest protests so far and the largest in two decades which intensified despite government concessions meant to quell them.

Police yesterday fired tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds that had broken through barriers in Fortaleza and Salvador, in north-east Brazil. Brazilian broadcaster O Globo said stones were thrown at Fifa's hotel in Salvador and two windows were broken, and two buses serving the world governing body damaged.

There was also violence in Rio de Janeiro, where protesters stormed the stage of a concert aimed at showcasing the Confederations Cup.

The protests, now in their second week, have been about high taxes, inflation, corruption and poor public services and have also targeted the amount of public money being spent on the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

No matches are scheduled for today although play will resume on Saturday with Italy facing Brazil in Salvador and Japan playing Mexico in Belo Horizonte.