Latin America & Caribbean

Protests disrupt Fifa visit to Brazil World Cup venue

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Media captionProtesters have called for more public spending on health and education

Protesters in Brazil have disrupted an official visit to a football stadium being built for next year's World Cup.

A group of some 50 people stormed the Arena Pantanal, in the western city of Cuiaba, as it was being inspected by the Secretary General of Fifa, Jerome Valcke.

They shouted slogans and held banners criticising the huge amounts spent in preparations for the World Cup.

The incident raises new concerns about security during the event.

"Go home!" and "World Cup for whom?" read some of the banners carried by protesters - most of them striking teachers and postal workers.

They have called for more public spending on health and education.

Tropical wetlands

Image caption The stadium will have capacity for 44,000 people

The stadium is expected to cost about £140m ($230m; 500m reais).

Many in Brazil have criticised the decision to build a stadium for more than 40,000 spectators in Mato Grosso state, which does not have a single team in the country's top football division.

But the Brazilian government said that hosting four World Cup matches at the stadium will draw the world's attention to the natural beauty of the Pantanal Conservation Area, a home to vast tropical wetlands.

Mr Valcke said the protesters had to take the long term benefits into account.

"People have freedom and that is part of democracy. But the workers who are here trying to finish the stadium should not be targeted," said Mr Valcke.

He said he had a meeting with Governor Silval Barbosa to find out if the works were going to meet the deadline set by the Fifa, the world's football governing body.

Officials say the Arena Pantanal is 85% ready, though none of the seats in the stadium have been installed.

Fifa has demanded that all venues are ready by 20 December.

The 2014 World Cup will kick off in Sao Paulo on 12 June. The final match will be played in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium on 13 July.

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