Soccer

England 'concerned' about pre-WC Brazil unrest

LONDON (AP) — England's security team is "very, very concerned" about the unrest in Brazil ahead of the World Cup, coach Roy Hodgson said on Thursday.

The Confederations Cup, which serves as a warm-up event for the World Cup, was targeted in June by protesters upset with Brazil's poor public services, high taxes and lavish spending on the football tournament and 2016 Rio Olympics.

The protests, which at their peak saw 1 million take to the streets across Brazil on a single day, have grown smaller, but more violent and show no sign of going away — seven months before the world's top footballers arrive.

Such disorder could restrict the freedom of England players to roam the streets near the beach-side hotel in Rio de Janeiro where the team will be based for football's showpiece event. "It's something which our security people I'm sure will be very, very concerned about," Hodgson said.

"There have been some problems over there as we all know. We can't turn a blind eye to that, but we can only trust that the authorities are taking issue with any problems that are taking place over there."

England's security planning will intensify after the draw next month reveals where the team will have to travel for matches. "We'll start to talk about that immediately afterwards," Hodgson said at a Wembley Stadium briefing. "June is a long way off and I, just like all the other coaches, have to trust that any civil unrest at the moment will be quelled or put to bed at least by the time we get there."

Hodgson was due to travel to Rio for a conference next month before heading north to Bahia for the Dec. 6 draw. But Soccerex was abruptly called off this week with organizers claiming the Rio state government cancelled the conference over concerns that spending more public money on it might trigger a public uproar.

The Rio government has suggested that a financial dispute led to the Nov. 30-Dec. 5 event at the Maracana Stadium being canceled.

Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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