Anti Riot Police controlling protest at Rio De Jenairo

Anti Riot Police controlling protest at Rio De Jenairo

The spiralling costs of hosting the tournament next summer have sparked a social revolution in the country, leaving Fifa with a serious dilemma

By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro

“Violence out of control” screams the front page of Brazilian newspaper O Dia. It’s a theme mirrored across the media here in Rio, after more than 1,000,000 people protested against the government in 100 cities on Thursday.

As police used tear gas and rubber pellets to disperse some of the 300,000-plus people who marched in Rio, at least one death was reported, in Sao Paulo, as the mass demonstrations transitioned from peaceful to ugly.

Brazil’s president has cancelled an overseas trip to deal with the crisis and she may well be calling Fifa in the coming days to discuss calling off the the Confederations Cup, a warm-up tournament for the 2014 World Cup.

Fifa insisted on Friday morning that the possibility of cancelling the tournament has not been contemplated, but that could change in the coming days, with this weekend expected to see the largest rallies to date.

While world football’s governing body will do its utmost to resist such a scenario, the safety of supporters, tourists, players and staff must be the priority.

The wave of protests might be the cornerstone of a new way the Brazilian people perceives its politics. Only might, however, because the sudden expansion on the people’s list of demands could damage the initial propositions.

Originally, the protests were centered around the bad conditions and over-priced mass transportation in the big cities. But other sectors of Brazilian society perceived the growing unrest as an opportunity to add their demands to the protestor’s goals, and this has added a degree of controversy to the public debate. Of course, the absurd public costs of the World Cup also play a big part on the people’s discontent, explaining why a lot of protestors aim to reach the venues of the Confederations Cup.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who left the country earlier this weekend to attend the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey, has often spoken about the power of football in inspiring social change.

This is not how he meant it, but the Confederations Cup and the World Cup have united people in calling for a better Brazil and better use of their taxes.

Fifa have been put in their place for crowing about their shiny stadiums and ignoring the huge wealth gap in this country. Now they can only hope that we have seen the worst of the protests, or they could be facing the ultimate embarrassment of cancelling one of their prided tournaments.