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Anti-World Cup protest draws over 2,000 in Sao Paulo

Reuters

SAO PAULO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The year's first major protest against the World Cup drew more than 2,000 demonstrators into the streets of Brazil's largest city on Saturday, as frustration over the cost of the tournament lingers in the host country.

But the demonstration in Sao Paulo fell far short of the more than 20,000 people who confirmed attendance on Facebook, highlighting the diminished energy of recent protests compared to the public unrest during the Confederations Cup tournament held here last June.

During that tournament, a dress rehearsal for the World Cup in June, more than a million Brazilians joined in protests against poor public services and political corruption. The cost of new stadiums outraged many demonstrators demanding more investment in public transportation, healthcare and education.

Politicians and investors are watching closely this year to see if another wave of protests could sully the image of the World Cup or weigh on the popularity of President Dilma Rousseff ahead of elections in October.

As the largely peaceful Sao Paulo demonstration wrapped up around sunset, local television registered isolated acts of vandalism, including broken bank windows, a smashed police car and a Volkswagen beetle engulfed in flames. (Reporting by Brad Haynes)

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