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Italy’s national soccer team, in Brazil for FIFA’s Confederations Cup tournament, has been forbidden from leaving its hotel in Salvador because of security concerns over protests that have spread throughout the country.
Italy had allowed its players to travel around Rio de Janeiro when the team arrived for the two-week tournament. The team faces host Brazil tomorrow in Salvador. Yesterday one million demonstrators across the country rallied for better public services and an end to corruption.
“Of course during these recent days the situation has changed,” Coach Cesare Prandelli told reporters at the Fonte Nova stadium in Salvador. “While we were in Rio everything was fine and we could go out. In Recife and here we’re forbidden from leaving the hotel, so we have some concerns but to think about going home, absolutely not.”
Prandelli spoke following reports in local media that Italy’s team had asked soccer’s governing body to consider scrapping the eight-team competition, a warm-up event for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Prandelli said it wasn’t true, and that no member of his 23-member squad has asked to return home.
Italy’s manager said he didn’t expect there to be protests at the match tomorrow, because it would be a “paradox” for people to be cheering at the game in the stadium while their countrymen were outside protesting.
“It would be a contradiction too strong and unacceptable,” he said.
Marches took place in hundreds of cities across Brazil last night in what began as a peaceful protest. Violence later erupted with police battling mobs trying to storm the Foreign Relations Ministry in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro’s city hall. Two deaths have been linked to the protests.
In Salvador yesterday, an empty bus with logos from FIFA, the governing body for soccer, was among several parked vehicles that protestors attacked with stones.
Prandelli also explained a statement he made about striker Mario Balotelli being the only squad member allowed to leave the hotel “because his skin is different to ours.”
Balotelli is the only black player in the team and has been subjected to racist abuse when he’s played club soccer in Italy. Prandelli said he made the remark as a joke, and that Balotelli was allowed out because he was doing charity work.
Editors: Michael Sillup, Larry Siddons. To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja at the Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Baynes at email@example.com.