Riot police in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro fired tear gas at thousands of protesters on Thursday, as demonstrations against the cost of hosting soccer’s World Cup resumed in Brazil.
Some protesters torched tires, blocked roads and hurled rocks, the BBC reports. Local media reported that 234 people were arrested within a 24-hour period.
Protesters argue that the tournament’s $15 billion tab should instead be used for social projects and housing.
The government argues that the event will bring economic benefits and downplayed the relevance of Thursday’s demonstrations by pointing at their coincidence with labor strikes.
“I’ve seen nothing that is related to the (World) Cup,” said Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo. “There’s no reason to panic ahead of receiving 3 million Brazilian tourists and 600,000 foreign tourists.”
The World Cup kicks off on June 12.