Soccer may be a religion in Brazil, but some citizens are committing blasphemy. Some 2,500 Brazilians took to the streets of Sao Paulo this weekend to protest the 2014 World Cup. At least 128 people were detained or arrested as a car was lit on fire and shop windows were smashed in.
Carrying banners that read “Não vai ter Copa” – translated “There Will Be No Cup” – the protesters largely conducted themselves peacefully, but a handful began damaging property in downtown Sao Paulo. A small car was torched, a police car was damaged, and the windows of several stores including a bank were smashed in.
Protesters say that holding the World Cup in Brazil is far too expensive for the nation, which should instead focus its money on providing services for its poor citizens.
"We are against the millions and millions of dollars being spent for the Cup," student Leonardo Pelegrini dos Santos told the Associated Press.
"It is money that should be invested in better health and education services and better transportation and housing."
Sao Paulo, which will host the World Cup starting June 12, saw the largest number of protesters over the weekend, but citizens in Rio de Janero, Natal and other cities also held small protests.
In response to the protests, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has called for a referendum on political reform in the nation and promised to invest 50 billion reais ($25 billion) in improving Brazil’s public transit system.