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Brazilians Protest as World Cup Games Start

World Cup protesters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 12, 2014. (Brian Allen/VOA)
Several hundred Brazilian protesters are demonstrating across the country just hours before the World Cup begins.

VOA's Nicco Pinot reports that hundreds of people gathered in downtown Rio de Janeiro to protest social policies and the billions of dollars Brazil spent on football stadiums.

The demonstrators say they feel officials are neglecting the social services of Brazil, and plan to protest throughout the World Cup.

In Sao Paulo, dozens of protesters clashed with police near the Arena Corinthians Stadium, which will host the opening match. The run-up to the competition has been plagued by years of construction delays and budget overruns.

The government spent $11.5 billion to prepare for the month-long event, including building or upgrading stadiums in 12 cities hosting games among the 32-team field.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans join the rest of the world in waiting for the first whistle allowing the World Cup tournament to begin. Local pubs are the venue of choice for many who fear load shedding may affect their joy.