Football

Protests mar Selecao's arrival

PROTEST: Irate teachers blocking the arrival of the Brazilian national team in Teresopolis. PHOTO: AFP

Brazil's national squad ran a gauntlet of protesters on Monday as they reported for World Cup training against a backdrop of public anger over spending on the tournament.

"An educator is worth more than Neymar," chanted a group of 200 striking teachers, referring to Brazil's star striker, as the team bus edged through the protesters on its way from Rio de Janeiro's international airport to the base camp where the squad will train before playing Croatia in the World Cup opening match on June 12.

Despite a heavy police presence, the demonstrators managed to hold up the team's convoy long enough to plant anti-World Cup stickers on their bus before it finally cleared the throng.

At the squad's training complex, where they were met by more protests, technical director Carlos Alberto Parreira downplayed the demonstrations and said Brazilians overwhelmingly supported the team.

"Make of it what you will, I believe the team are the cultural and sporting heritage of the Brazilian people. The people are going to support the team throughout the World Cup, I don't have the slightest doubt of that. No one is against the Selecao," said Parreira.

SUPPORTERS

"What I saw during the 100km drive to get here, when the team stopped, there were people supporting and applauding them, the people were encouraging them the entire time."

To ensure Brazil have the best possible conditions to prepare, the CBF earlier this year gave a multi-million dollar facelift to the Granja Comary training complex in Teresopolis.

The facilities include 39 individual rooms with king-sized beds and several full-size pitches where coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will prepare the team.

But such luxurious details have angered a populace demanding urgent investment in infrastructure, health and education.

Police will stand guard 24 hours a day at Granja Comary to ward off any trouble.

The players will train from today and undergo fitness checks after a long season in Europe, where all but five of the 23 play.

They will travel to the central city of Goiania for a June 3 friendly against Panama. Three days later, they will play their final warm-up against Serbia in Sao Paulo. - AFP.