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FIFA confident Brazil-Uruguay match will be safe

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

World football body FIFA voiced confidence Tuesday that authorities can ensure security during the upcoming Confederations Cup semi-final showdown between hosts Brazil and Uruguay despite the street protests rocking this country.

"We are in permanent contact with the local authorities and have total confidence in the security measures implemented," a FIFA spokesman told AFP on the eve of the semi-final between the two South American rivals here.

"We will monitor the situation closely (but) at no time has FIFA, the Local Organising Committee or the Federal government either discussed or considered cancelling the Confederations Cup," the spokesman said.

The tournament has been overshadowed by waves of street protests which began two weeks ago over hikes in public transport fares in Sao Paulo and Rio.

The unrest spread more than 100 cities across the giant country of nearly 200 million, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators vented anger over poor public services and rampant corruption.

Military police in Belo Horizonte, which will host Brazil's semi-final and which witnessed a march by more than 70,000 people last Saturday and a smaller protest last Thursday, said they did not plan to try to prevent fresh protest ahead of the match, according to local press reports.

Police are set, however, to try to ensure that any protest is kept away from the immediate vicinity of Belo Horizonte's Mineirao stadium.

Saturday's disturbances ahead of a Japan-Mexico group match saw more than 20 people injured and a similar number of arrests.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari earlier said he hoped the national side would play its part in bolstering national pride and encourage Brazilians to believe in their country's ability to reform.

Several players, including star Neymar, have spoken out in favour of the protests as Brazilians clamor for more government spending on education, transport and public health.

Many say the billions of dollars being spent on the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup should have been allocated to social projects instead in a country marked by glaring social inequality.

Leftist President Dilma Rousseff has vowed to listen to the protesters and Monday proposed to invest $25 billion in public transport and suggest a public referendum on sweeping political reforms.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130625/fifa-confident-brazil-uruguay-match-will-be-safe-0