UK & World News

  • 13 June 2014, 7:24

World Cup Kicks Off With Parties And Protests

The World Cup in Brazil has kicked off with street parties celebrating the host nation's opening win and scattered protests over the huge costs of the event.

Millions of fans took to the streets as their side beat Croatia 3-1 in the tournament opener in Sao Paulo.

Parties continued late into the night with a heavy presence of police and troops to maintain order.

Tensions spilled over in a number of host cities following construction delays and months of unrest with many Brazilians furious over the $11bn spent on hosting the tournament.

There were violent clashes in Sao Paulo before and after the game.

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas to break up the protests and a number of people were injured.

Clashes were also witnessed in Rio de Janiero, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Brasilia.

It is hoped the mood of the country will be improved by their side's encouraging start to the tournament, with fans' favourite Neymar scoring twice.

"This joy will be a contagion that will spread to all Brazilians," one supporter said.

Another Brazil fan added: "The victory will improve the mood a bit. I'm against opportunistic protests.

"Now is not the time to protest during an international event. The problems like bad hospitals date from before the World Cup."

Despite fears over the stadium in Sao Paulo, which was completed six months late, the game passed without any major problems.

A number of floodlights failed during the first half but the problem was resolved quickly.

President Dilma Rousseff, who has defended the World Cup against criticism ahead of her bid for re-election in October, was jeered by many in the stadium and by fans watching the game on big screens across the country.

After the final whistle Brazil's coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, described the stadium as "incredible" and "fantastic".

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