Blatter glosses over riots

FIFA president Sepp Blatter glossed over the nationwide protests which have formed the backdrop to the Confederations Cup in Brazil, saying football had played a "positive part" for the country.

Blatter was confident that next year's World Cup, also in Brazil, would be a success and his spokesman Walter De Gregorio cited a poll which said 71 percent of the population still wanted the country to host the 2014 tournament.

"FIFA has come out of this stronger," Blatter told a news conference at the Maracana. "Football has played a positive part here and given emotion. When we say football connects people, it connected people in the stadium, perhaps unfortunately it connected people in the street. I can understand this social unrest, absolutely, but on the other hand, football brings at this time to the whole continent these emotions and hope."

Brazil has been hit by a wave of protests as it hosts the eight-team Confederations Cup, a dry-run for the World Cup which will be staged in 12 cities. The protests have featured riot police firing rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators but Blatter preferred to concentrate on praising the stadiums and the quality of football.

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