Photo: Maracana Stadium
The Brazilian city of Rio will deploy the largest security operation in its history to guarantee public order and safety during the 2014 World Cup final between Argentina and Germany.
“It is a great responsibility not only to organize the World Cup final but also to have so many dignitaries and foreign visitors at the event,” Rio de Janeiro state Public Safety Secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame said Friday.
He told a press conference that, besides guaranteeing security for the at least 11 heads of state and 74,000 soccer fans who will crowd Maracana Stadium on Sunday, the plan is to ward off any kind of violence by the social groups vowing to stage protests against the World Cup’s lavish government spending.
Unlike other operations to guarantee security at international summits or events like the visit of Pope Francis, the World Cup final requires many more police on hand to prevent possible conflicts among soccer fans, Beltrame said.
Besides beefing up security around Maracana Stadium, authorities will provide reinforcements at two traditional Carnival areas that have been converted into parking lots for some 500 vans and buses for Argentine soccer fans.
Police presence will also be boosted in Lapa, a downtown district of bars and restaurants currently packed with thousands of foreigners.
The operation will extend to Guanabara Palace, the seat of the Rio state government and where President Dilma Rousseff will host a luncheon for foreign dignitaries.
Among the heads of state confirmed to be on hand for the big game will be Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Beltrame added that the armed forces will support the operation with a mobilization of soldiers, groups specialized in chemical and biological defense, and 25 navy vessels along the Rio de Janeiro coastline.
The air force will guarantee compliance with Rio de Janeiro’s airspace shutdown, scheduled to last from several hours before the final until a few hours after it ends.
Repetition of the massive protests that shook Brazil last year, some against the amount of public funds being spent on the World Cup, was one of the authorities’ greatest fears before the tourney began, but the demonstrations up to now have been few and sparsely attended.
The Brazilian government also reinforced police presence on the highways on behalf of the thousands of Argentines coming to Rio de Janeiro by road.