Anti-World Cup protests are not the only problem Brazilian security authorities will face during the soccer tournament. They are also bracing for an invasion of Argentine hooligans.
The soccer fan clubs called “barras bravas” in neighboring Argentina are notoriously violent and Brazilian police are taking no chances.
Brazil plans to beef up security in and outside stadiums where arch rival Argentina will play, deploy undercover cops and bring in Argentine police officers to spot troublemakers, police officials in some host cities said.
“I don’t care what they call these people. Brazilian police, in cooperation with foreign police, will be tough in responding to anyone who comes here to commit crimes,” said Andrei Rodrigues, Brazil’s security chief for the World Cup.
More than 50 000 Argentine fans are expected to come to Brazil for the World Cup, many driving across the border in cars and buses.
Brazil’s government already faces the threat of street protests by Brazilians opposed to the high cost of hosting the tournament.
Massive demonstrations broke out last year during a warm-up for the World Cup and have continued on a smaller scale, sometimes with violence.
A record 30 people died in soccer-related violence last year in Brazil, the highest in the world after Argentina and Italy, according to data compiled by Brazilian researcher Mauricio Murad.
Brazilian police are also worried that Argentine barras bravas could clash with English fans in the city of Belo Horizonte where the teams will play only three days apart.
These teams have long had one of the sport’s fiercest rivalries, fueled by the Falklands war of 1982 and Diego Maradona’s notorious “Hand of God” goal that helped oust England from the 1986 Cup.
Brazil also plans to deploy 157 000 police and troops to secure borders and maintain order around stadiums.