Fifa plays down World Cup concerns amid Rio violence

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Fifa says it is concerned about recent violence in Brazil less than two months before the country hosts the World Cup, but football’s governing body is still confident Brazil will stage “the biggest party on Earth”.

Marketing director Thierry Weil spoke after a Rio de Janeiro slum erupted in violence on Tuesday following the killing of a popular local figure.

Angry residents started fires and hurled home-made explosives and bottles on to a busy street in the city’s main tourist zone.

It was the latest violence to hit one of Rio’s so-called “pacified” slums – poor areas that were long controlled by drug gangs.

Police began an ambitious programme in 2008 to drive gangs from slums. The action is part of Rio’s security push ahead of the World Cup.

Meanwhile residents of the Pavao-Pavaozinho “favela” slum staged a protest in the Copacabana beach neighbourhood.

Several hundred people took to the main thoroughfare of the neighbourhood in the protest. It appeared to be largely peaceful, despite reports of an initial scuffle between demonstrators and police.

The protest followed the burial of Douglas Pereira, whose shooting death sparked Tuesday’s clashes between police and residents.

Rio state’s top security official has acknowledged Mr Pereira may have been shot by police.

In Hong Kong, Fifa president Sepp Blatter downplayed the Brazil security fears.

“Yes, there are security issues but those matters lie with the government and state of Brazil and that is a part of the commitment they have given to us. Fifa cannot ensure security,” he said.

“But be optimistic, football is optimistic this will be a great tournament in a country where football is revered.”

Mr Blatter also said there had always been some issues in the lead-up to the World Cup. Three stadiums in Brazil have still not been completed.

“There are problems but I have never seen a World Cup where everything was ready before it kicked off. I have been to 10 World Cups and every time there have been worries,” he said.

“We are just about one month away from this World Cup and I’m optimistic it will be a great tournament.”