April 25, 2014 (ISN) – FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke has insisted the World Cup is not “at risk” after a man was shot to dead in violent clashes close to the iconic Copacabana Beach.
Riots were sparked by the death on Wednesday (April 23) of dancer Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, who friends and family allege was beaten by police.
Fires were lit and homemade explosives, bottles and other objects thrown onto Copacabana’s main avenues.
Elite police units were sent into the slums to stop the violence.
A 27-year-old man was killed by a bullet to the head – it is not clear who fired the shot.
“It is a tragic episode which causes sadness but it is not sufficient to say the Cup is at risk,” Valcke said.
“I have received several messages asking me if there is a civil war in Brazil and I have replied no,” added Valcke, speaking in Fortaleza which is hosting games during the tournament.
Authorities in Rio de Janeiro have been trying to drive out gangs from slums in the city for years as part of efforts to ease security concerns ahead of the World Cup and the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.
But protests and violence have scarred Rio’s streets since large-scale clashes during the Confederations Cup last summer over rising transport costs, issues with corruption and the cost of hosting the World Cup and the 2016 Games.
In February, riot police fired tear gas and at least seven people were hurt, one seriously, after protests about a planned increase in bus fares.
The world cup kicks off on June 12 with Rio’s Maracanã stadium hosting seven matches, including the final, on July 13.