Amid World Cup draw, protesters demand better services

As FIFA held the eagerly-waited World Cup draw, activists staged a colorful protest in Brasilia to draw attention to the country's social priorities: education and health.

Earlier this week, Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo played down delays in construction work for four host venues for the next year's Cup, saying the fact that a bride arrives late at her wedding does not mean the marriage will fail.

"The minister depicted the culture of delays of the Brazilian state, delay in public policies, in health, education, which are the country's priorities," said Antonio Costa, an activist of the NGO Rio da Paz.

So the group paraded a bride on a red carpet outside the National Congress to draw attention to demands made in last June's nationwide street protests for better public services and criticism of the high cost of staging the World Cup.

The Brasilia protest coincided with a FIFA ceremony in the northeastern Bahia state resort of Costa do Saiupe for the draw to distribute the 32 participating nations in eight groups of four, each containing one seeded nation.

The seeds are hosts Brazil, defending champions Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, in Rio, various groups called for an "anti-draw" protest outside the iconic Maracana stadium, which will host the World Cup final next July.

Officials are bracing for possible new street protests during the high-profile tournament, which will be held in 12 host cities beginning next June.