By Paulo Whitaker
If the FIFA Confederations Cup is supposed to be about soccer, the latest edition in Brazil was really about so much else. Brazilians are passionate about the sport, but with all the public spending on stadiums for that and the 2014 World Cup, the people inaugurated the Confederations Cup with protests against poor public schools, hospitals and transportation. The protests began over a sudden increase in bus fares, but that was only the catalyst for a wave of protests that swept the country, especially near the stadiums where the world was watching soccer.
They were ten days of steady protests and riots, leading up to the semi-final between Spain and Italy in Fortaleza. I had the information that protests were planned near the stadium, and because of past experience covering I went earlier this time with colleague Kai Pfaffenbach to the stadium. But police had kept the demonstrations far from the stadium in a slum area dangerous to walk in with photo gear.
After leaving the hotel we passed in front of a university where some 300 students were already barricading the main road to the stadium. It was clear that clashes would be inevitable that day.
Police had set up four separate control points to stop the protesters from approaching the stadium, so we chose the one to which the students were heading. The atmosphere became tense when the students arrived carrying bottles and stones. It was their way of announcing violence.
Protesters arrived at the police barricade screaming slogans, and the police prepared for possible confrontations. Kai and I were working close, but then it made sense to search for a different position. I found a house with a terrace that offered a different angle.