- POSTED: 27 May 2014 02:21
- UPDATED: 27 May 2014 07:30
Dodging 200 striking teachers, Brazil's World Cup squad headed for their tournament headquarters on Monday, seeking football glory against a backdrop of social tension at the cost of staging the event.
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil: Dodging 200 striking teachers, Brazil's World Cup squad headed for their tournament headquarters on Monday, seeking football glory against a backdrop of social tension at the cost of staging the event.
"An educator is worth more than Neymar" -- Brazil's star striker -- the teachers chanted as the team bus headed from Rio de Janeiro's international airport towards the squad's base about 90 kilometres away at Teresopolis in the hills north of Rio.
Despite a heavy police presence the demonstrators managed to hold up proceedings long enough to plant anti-World Cup stickers on the vehicle before the bus finally eased past the throng.
At the squad's Granja Comary training complex, where they were met by more protests, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said his charges have what it takes to win the country's sixth World Cup.
"We have a great mix (of youth and experience). The young players have experience having played at the top level in Europe," he told Globo television as he waited for his squad to arrive.
To ensure Brazil have the best possible conditions in which to prepare, the Brazilian Football Confederation earlier this year gave the training complex a multimillion-dollar facelift.
The facilities include 39 individual rooms with king-size beds and several full-size pitches where Scolari will prepare the team before they play the opening match of the tournament against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12.
But such luxurious details have angered a populace demanding urgent investment in sagging infrastructure, health and education.
A small group of protesters gathered outside the Granja Comary facility, where one banner read, in English: "Billions for the FIFA World Cup, no housing for the victims of the heavy rains (of) 2011. Do you think it is fair?"
Torrential rains claimed more than 900 lives in the Teresopolis region days after President Dilma Rousseff took office.
Rosangela Castro, a local teacher, said: "It is a real scandal they spent more than 15 million reais ($7 million) to refurbish this training center and billions on the World Cup."
Police will stand guard 24 hours a day at Granja Comary to ward off any trouble.
Brazil has been hit by a wave of strikes and protests ahead of the World Cup and elections in October. Police, teachers, bank security guards and bus drivers have staged disruptive strikes in recent weeks.