Protesters, police clash ahead of World Cup opening match

By Kyle Johnson,

Demonstrators clashed with police on Thursday in Sao Paulo, Brazil as they continue to protest the World Cup mere hours ahead of the opening match.

The Brazilian national team and Croatia were preparing for their match inside the stadium, while outside police were using rubber bullets and tear gas to interrupt the small protests, The New York Times reports. Many felt that the reaction from police went too far.

"The police response was absurd," 21-year-old English teacher Paula Machado said. "This is a violation of our rights."

The response certainly didn't appear to fit the situation given that in Brazil's capital city, the protests were mostly peaceful, though some preferred to throw rocks and bottles at police instead of carrying signs.

Many remain upset with the government for the rampant corruption and overspending - to the tune of $11.5 billion - that has occurred since Brazil was named host city for 2014, with many Brazilians believing the money should have instead gone to improving the country.

Protests have been raging for months, with many involving several municipal groups, creating traffic and other problems for those coming into the country for the tournament. There was a strike, since called off, by airport workers in Rio de Janeiro that led to many missing flights and bus drivers and doctors in Natal have also gone on strike.

Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff tried to get citizens to calm down and support the World Cup through a pre-taped speech released earlier in the week, according to The Associated Press.

"I'm certain that in the 12 host cities, visitors are going to mix with a happy, generous and hospitable people, and be impressed by a nation full of natural beauty and which fights each day to become more equal," Rouseff said.

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