Wed, Jul 03, 2013 - Page 20 News List

World Cup 2014: World Cup matches ‘will be stopped’ if tear gas interferes

Agencies, RIO DE JANEIRO

World Cup matches in Brazil next year will be stopped if tear gas from protests outside stadiums affects players.

The Confederations Cup, which served as a test event for next year’s World Cup, witnessed clashes between anti-government protesters and police outside some stadiums.

FIFA will not tell security officials to avoid a repeat of scenes where police were using rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas close to stadiums.

“That’s not for me to decide on security, that’s an issue for the government,” FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said on Monday. “I am asking them to provide the security we need to organize the World Cup ... we have no right to ask the government what to do with the security. It’s their problem and their responsibility.”

Tear gas wafted into some Confederations Cup games, with reports that members of the Brazil team were affected during their 3-0 victory over Spain in Sunday’s final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Asked if World Cup games would be halted if tear gas was troubling the teams, Valcke said: “Anytime the 22 players on the pitch cannot play, then you have to stop.”

Valcke experienced the effects of tear gas during one game in Brazil, but said it is impossible to stop it drifting into stadiums.

“What you do want to do? To put volunteers [blowing] around the stadium?” Valcke asked.

“You want us to put some big fans in order to push [it] away?” he added. “There is a limit to what we can do. There is a limit to what we can ask. Again, we have to live with what we have sometimes.”

Valcke said security only becomes a concern “if we cannot organize the event.”

“Along as it doesn’t affect the organization of the event, it’s a responsibility of the government security,” he said.

However, FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Monday saluted a successful Confederations Cup, despite the event being marred by the social protests, expressing confidence that Brazil will deliver an outstanding World Cup next year.

“When we started the competition there was some uncertainty what would happen,” the head of world soccer’s governing body said, given that Brazil faced a race against the clock to get stadiums ready on time, and battled logistical and infrastructural problems.

There are also fears that the country, having welcomed just eight teams to six venues over the past three weeks, still faces a major challenge in readying itself for a World Cup of 32 teams in 12 cities across the giant nation.

However, Blatter said he was full of optimism after Brazil set the seal on an entertaining tournament, the social protests on its fringes notwithstanding, by defeating Spain.

He hailed the Maracana fans and the electric atmosphere as the most incredible he had ever heard.

What moved Blatter most during the two-week competition was the astonishing rendition of the Brazilian national anthem before the final.

“In all my years I have never witnessed anything like that,” Blatter said.

The 70,000-plus crowd continued singing the anthem after the musical accompaniment stopped, rising to an ear-splitting crescendo.

“The Maracana is something exceptional and that was a very special roar. The fans were extraordinary yesterday [Sunday]. Not fanatical fans, but fantastic fans,” Blatter said.

“The legacy will be that we will have an absolutely outstanding World Cup next year, no problems,” Blatter said, adding that soccer and the Brazilian people were the winners after the Confederations Cup event.

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