Armed police stopped a group of protesters from marching on Fortaleza’s football stadium on Tuesday, just as the World Cup group A game between Brazil and Mexico was about to kick off in the city’s Estadio Castelao.
Despite one light scuffle the masked protestors were peacefully restricted from breaking the two-kilometre (1.2 mile) cordon around the stadium by heavily armed officers.
Holding banners criticising the country’s government and world footballing body, FIFA, the core group of about 60 masked demonstrators goaded the police and threatened them with stones and Molotov cocktails.
“It is about wanting better health and education while they spent everything, so much money over there and we can’t let it happen, we need to be more direct with them”, said one of the protestors, refusing to give his name.
A menacing atmosphere and the sound of firework explosions made a less than comfortable journey to the site of the decisive game for the many thousands of Mexicans who were making their way on foot to the stadium.
For many of the locals living on labyrinthine streets in the impoverished neighbourhood that lead to the cordoned off area, it was not the kind of welcome they wanted to give to the biggest football game that has ever been played in the city.
“Why don’t they go and make their views known in the ballot boxes during elections and like that they can have an impact, not when when we have this game of the Brazilian team here”, said Francisca Senna, a 51-year-old cleaner who lives on the street where the standoff took place.
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