World Cup 2014: Brazil set to kick-off tournament

The 2014 Fifa World Cup begins on Thursday as hosts Brazil open the tournament against Croatia.

The month-long tournament sees 32 nations compete for a place in the final in Rio on Sunday, 13 July.

The opening match will be preceded by a ceremony in Sao Paulo that pays tribute to nature, people and football.

“Let me tell you the time has arrived. We are going together. This is our World Cup,” said Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari on Wednesday.

Last year more than a million people took to the streets of major Brazilian cities to protest against what they see as excessive spending on the World Cup.

The host country’s government is keen to prevent a repeat of some of the violence seen at those protests, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she will not allow violent demonstrations to mar the World Cup. 

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