13 Jun 2014

Sao Paulo police crack down on protest

7:15 am on 13 June 2014

Police in Sao Paulo fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to break up an anti-football World Cup protest on the morning the Brazilian mega-city hosts the tournament's opening match.

Dozens of protesters had gathered near a Sao Paulo subway station with a red banner reading "If we have no rights, there won't be a Cup."

They said they planned to march as close as possible to Corinthians Arena, the city's World Cup stadium.

But police carrying anti-riot shields forcefully broke them up before they could start, firing stun grenades and gas.

One officer fired rubber bullets at a shirtless protester who stood in the middle of the street refusing to disperse.

Police then detained the man.

The demonstrators had been chanting "There won't be a Cup," the rallying cry of the protest movement against the more than $11 billion in government spending laid out for the tournament, which opponents say should have been used for education, health, housing and transport instead.

The sprawling South American country was visibly divided between excited fans decked out in green and yellow in fervent support of the national team and those fearful of anti-World Cup protests or determined to join them.