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Protesters clash as Brazil wins final

1 July 2013-AFP

Rio Brazil Spain FIFA Confederations Cup Maracana stadium

More protests ... Demonstrations march peacefully near Maracana stadium (Getty Images)

With a fiesta of football inside and demonstrations outside, it was a day of stark contrasts in Rio as host Brazil whipped Spain 3-0 to win a third successive FIFA Confederations Cup even as protesters clashed with police near legendary Maracana stadium.

The host's victory thrilled the partisan crowd of 78,000, most of whom wore the Selecao's green and yellow jersey.

Earlier in the day, thousands of demonstrators marched toward Maracana, most of them peacefully.

"There won't be a final," chanted some of them, who earlier released 20 balloons into the sky with a huge poster reading 'FIFA, get out'.

But a small group of hooded protesters, some armed with screwdrivers and slingshots, lit a fire in the street and hurled stones at police who responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets as police helicopters circled overhead.

The demonstrators ran in all directions under a cloud of tear gas but police awaited them at every corner.

"Unfortunately, the incidents were started by demonstrators who hurled makeshift bombs and stones at police," Henrique Guelber of the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, told the G1 news website.

The demonstrators responded to calls on social media to turn out to back the national squad but also to protest the country's inadequate public services - a key gripe at the core of two weeks of demonstrations that have rocked the South American giant.

More than 11,000 police and troops were mobilised to ensure security for 78,000 fans at the Maracana arena as the curtain falls on a tournament hit by the unprecedented social unrest, with more than 1.5 million people taking to the streets nationwide over the past two weeks.

"We are against the privatisation of the stadium and forced housing displacement, linked to the 2014 World Cup and the (2016 Rio summer) Olympics," said Renato Cosentino, a spokesman for one of the groups sponsoring Saturday's protest.

Hundreds of demonstrators also rallied in the Tijuca district, about one mile from Maracana, dancing and chanting: 'FIFA, pay my (bus) fare' or 'Maracana is ours'.

Despite the festive atmosphere, many Brazilians are angry at the billions of dollars being spent to host the tournament and next year's FIFA World Cup.

Protesters complain the government has found billions of dollars to build brand new stadiums for 12 FIFA World Cup host stadiums while transport, education and health remain underfunded.

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