Brazil vows to keep out Argentina hooligans
Boca Juniors fans clash with the police during the celebration of Boca Juniors fan day at the Plaza de la Republica square in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 12, 2013 - by Juan Mabromata
"We do not want violent fans at the World Cup in Brazil," sports minister Aldo Rebelo said in response to reports that some of Argentina's notorious "barra bravas," or hardcore fans, may make it across the border to the event starting June 12.
"We are cooperating with international police" to minimize the risk of hooliganism, Estado de Sao Paulo quoted Rebelo as saying.
"We do not want these quarrelsome Argentines here in Brazil," added Rebelo, who caused controversy last week in saying that even if Brazil had social problems, they were less serious than in an Iraq or Afghanistan.
Rebelo hit out at domestic critics of the World Cup over a bill spiraling past $11 billion, saying they were "perhaps ill-informed."
Brazil has been the scene of repeated, sometimes violent, demonstrations against the event with many people saying they would rather have seen public cash spent on upgrading hospitals, education and transport.
"The sports ministry's budget, including that going towards the World Cup, is less than one percent of the budget of health or education. You can't even compare it to what people pay in interest charges each year," he said.
And addressing criticism about the slow pace of preparations, with some stadiums still not complete, he said: "We could have held the Cup just in Sao Paulo and reform stadiums just in Sao Paulo state... But it was not the correct thing to do, to exclude two-thirds of Brazilian territory."
He accepted that some infrastructure improvements were lagging behind schedule as the football looms ever closer, but insisted: "With or without the Cup, we needed these works -- even if they are not ready in time for the competition."