SAO PAULO, May 15 (UPI) -- Demonstrators protesting the $15 billion expense of the World Cup have taken to the streets in Sao Paulo, burning tires and blocking key roads.
Anti-World Cup protesters criticize the government for investing billions of dollars into a sporting event when the money should be put toward social projects, including housing.
Guilherme Boulos, head of the Homeless Workers Movement, said the protests are intended to be "symbolic," according to a BBC report. We don't want to destroy or damage the stadium. What we want is more rights for workers to have access to housing and to show the effects the Cup has brought to the poor."
The Brazilian government, however, attempted to downplay the protests, claiming they were unrelated to the World Cup, with Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo saying "From what I've seen, these are specific claims by workers. I've seen nothing that is related to the (World) Cup... There's no reason to panic ahead of receiving three million Brazilian tourists and 600,000 foreign tourists (for the tournament)."
A large protest was held in Sao Paulo's Itaquera district near the stadium where the World Cup opening ceremony will be held. There, protesters issued a call for the government to construct housing, not stadiums.
The cost of the World Cup is estimated at $15 billion and draws primarily from public funds.