By TIM FONTENAULT
Hours before the World Cup will begin, Brazilian police and rioters were still clashing in the host nation.
The latest clashes came Thursday morning in Sao Paulo, where the Brazilian National Team will kick off against Croatia this afternoon. Local police used tear gas and noise bombs to disperse the reported 100 protesters, who reconvened two hours later three blocks away from their original location. As of early Thursday afternoon, Reuters was reporting that five people were injured in the clashes.
Brazilian citizens have been protesting for months in the buildup to the World Cup because of government spending on the tournament, upwards of $11 billion, while social services received little funding.
Here are some other stories to be aware of this afternoon:
FABREGAS COMPLETES MOVE TO CHELSEA
Cesc Fabregas will return to the Premier League this coming season after signing a five-year contract with Chelsea on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Spanish midfielder spent the last three seasons with Barcelona after eight years at Arsenal. Fabregas scored 42 goals in 151 appearances with the Catalan club.
In his years with Arsenal, Fabregas, who made 353 appearances for the Gunners, only managed to win the 2005 FA Cup.
“I do feel that I have unfinished business in the Premier League and now is the right time to return,” Fabregas said.
“I considered all the other offers very carefully and I firmly believe that Chelsea is the best choice,” he said. “They match my footballing ambitions with their hunger and desire to win trophies. They have an amazing squad of players and an incredible manager. I am fully committed to this team and I can’t wait to start playing.”
Fabregas will wear the No. 4 shirt previously worn by David Luiz, who joined Paris Saint-Germain.
PLATINI WON’T BACK BLATTER
Sepp Blatter will seek a fifth term as FIFA president next May, but he will not have the support of UEFA President Michel Platini.
The head of the European confederation will fight to prevent the controversial leader from being re-elected. Platini joins FA chairman David Gill and Michael van Praag, the leader of the Dutch federation, who told Blatter to step aside during a UEFA summit Tuesday.
“I was very proud of the Europeans,” Platini said. “I am supporting Sepp Blatter no longer. It’s finished. I have known him for a long time, I like him, but I’m not favorable to him having another term.
“I supported him in 1998, but I do not support him in 2014. I have told him that. I think FIFA needs a new breath of fresh air.”
Platini could run against Blatter in next year’s FIFA presidential elections. The Frenchman will make a decision about that by the time of the Champions League draw in August.
“In my life, I wanted to be a footballer, and it went well,” Platini said. “I was asked to coach, and to be president of the organizing committee of the 1998 World Cup, and I liked it. Then I became a member of the FIFA executive committee. Now I am very happy to be at UEFA. I am loved by national associations. But FIFA is something important.”
FORMER UNION DEFENDER MYRIE CALLED INTO COSTA RICA SQUAD
Just hours before the 2014 World Cup is kicked off, Costa Rica has made a late roster change.
On Thursday, FIFA approved the addition of defender Dave Myrie, formerly of the Philadelphia Union, in place of the injured Heiner Mora. Mora hurt his Achilles tendon in training this week, leaving Los Ticos a defender short until FIFA had approved the switch.
Costa Rica open their World Cup campaign on Saturday with a Group D match against Uruguay in Fortaleza.
What are your thoughts on this news? Will the rioting ever stop? Does Fabregas make Chelsea the Premier League favorite? Do you think Platini is a better option than Blatter?
Share your thoughts below.