by Alice Monroe
Emotions were running high in Brazil's mega-city of Sao Paulo as the world braced for the World Cup 2014 opening ceremony
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Brazil was set for Thursday's opening ceremony of the 20th FIFA World Cup held in its largest city, Sao Paulo. Over three billion spectators, nearly half the world's population, were expected to watch the opening ceremony ring in the first soccer tournament hosted by Brazil in 64 years.
Emotions were running high following a seven-year build-up of the mega-tournament which has cost a record $11.5 billion to set up. Some fans were excited that the time for kick-off of the greatest soccer spectacle on Earth has finally come, but others protested angrily at the cost of the tournament, which has been marred by construction delays and political unrest.
Hours ahead of kick-off, Brazilian protesters clashed with police in Sao Paulo as they tried to block a highway leading from the airport towards the Corinthians Arena. At least one demonstrator was arrested and a CNN reporter injured during the clash, according to media reports.
"The world is going to see multitudes cheering for soccer - but also demanding that our country change," Helen Santos, a school teacher, said as she walked home in Rio de Janeiro.
"The world needs to see that we're a serious country. We're not just a nation of soccer, but a country striving and demanding the government provide better education and health care. The world needs to see the reality of Brazil, not just the sport."
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