FIFA asks Brazil for security guarantees

Rio de Janeiro, June 22 (IANS) FIFA has asked the Brazilian government to provide security guarantees amid fears that sweeping civil unrest could pose a threat to the Confederations Cup.

Less than a day after widespread rioting hit Brazil's biggest cities, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke denied speculation the tournament could be aborted, reports Xinhua.

"We have asked for security measures that we need in place for the competition to continue until the end," Valcke said Friday.

"I hope that this doesn't last until 2014. It's a problem that Brazil needs to resolve, not FIFA. We are the wrong target."

The protests, which started in Sao Paulo last week over rises in transport fares, have changed into a nationwide movement against government corruption and the cost of the World Cup. More than a million demonstrators marched through Brazil's biggest cities Thursday with many participants calling for fans to boycott the World Cup.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas as protestors attempted to enter the foreign ministry in Brasilia while violent clashes were also reported in Sao Paulo and here.

Asked if FIFA had considered a backup plan in case the unrest escalated, Valcke replied: "The Confederations Cup is taking place in Brazil and the World Cup will be here too. We are going to guarantee that it will take place in the best way possible. There's no plan B."

The events of the past week prompted President Dilma Rousseff to hold an emergency cabinet meeting in Brasilia Friday. She told Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo to ensure all of FIFA's security demands were met.

Meanwhile the Italian football federation released a statement denying reports the squad was considering abandoning the tournament. The federation's vice president Demetrio Albertini described the rumours as an 'invention'.

"We are not even analysing the hypothesis of leaving the Confederations Cup," Albertini said.

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