World Cup 2014: Michel Platini caught in 135-mile traffic jam as 12,000 protest in Sao Paolo at 'wasteful' World Cup spending
Protesters were angry at authorities spending £300 million on stadium
Friday 06 June 2014
European football chiefs, including Uefa boss Michel Platini, were caught in a 135-mile traffic jam on Thursday after more than 10,000 homeless Brazilians hit the streets of Sao Paulo to protest against what they perceive as wasteful World Cup spending.
Just a week before the World Cup starts, 12,000 people marched on the Arena Corinthians in the city to protest against the authority’s decision to spend £300 million on upgrading the stadium.
The protest ran parallel to a strike carried out by those that work on the city’s metro and these led to a complete shut-down of the transport system in Brazil’s largest city.
As a result, record levels of traffic were seen in Sao Paulo and Platini as well as a number of other Uefa delegates were among those delayed.
According to reports, it took Platini and his delegation nearly three hours to reach their hotel.
The demonstration represented further embarrassment for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who just two days ago responded to criticism by Fifa by saying that the country “was ready” to host the global event and that street protests would not affect the tournament which is due to begin in Sao Paolo on the 12 June.
It will also be a major worry for organisers in Sao Paulo.
Protests and strikes caused traffic jams across the city With the metro system being the main transport link connecting the Corinthians stadium to the rest of the city, it is feared that similar strikes and protests could make the opening match of the tournament between Croatia and hosts Brazil vulnerable to disruption.
The protest is yet another example of public outcry that has beset Brazil’s major cities over the past year.
Much of the Brazilian population are angry at the government’s decision to spend 6.5 billion on a sporting event when many in the country are unable to access decent health, transport and educational services.
So far heavy handed policing has been used as a tool to suppress these large public protests.
However, this has been condoned by a number of groups including Amnesty International and the Catholic Church.
This comes after a week where the Catholic Church joined the debate over Brazil’s World Cup spending.
In a statement released by the Catholic Bishops Conference, they said that they supported the Brazilian people’s right to protest, while expressing concern over what they saw as an “inversion of priorities in the use of public money.”
He statement said: “The church wants to contribute to the public debate and express its concern with . . . the inversion of priorities in the use of public money that should go to health, education, basic sanitation, transportation and security.”
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