Activists threaten to disrupt Rugby World Cup

Activists in New Zealand have threatened to disrupt this year’s Rugby World Cup with protests over government cutbacks, including possibly flour-bombing Auckland’s Eden Park stadium from the air.

Angered by cuts to pensions, welfare and public service jobs announced in the conservative government’s budget this month, a group called the Coalition for Social Justice said it would target the September 9-October 23 tournament.

“(We) intend to take action during the World Cup to alert the world that New Zealand is not as squeaky clean as people might perceive,” spokesman Meredydd Barrar told the New Zealand Herald.

“We might have to flour-bomb Eden Park again.”

Barrar was referring to a 1981 cricket Test between New Zealand and South Africa, which was called off after anti-apartheid protesters threw flour bombs and flares onto the ground from a light aircraft, hitting one All Black player.

There were also violent clashes between police and protesters outside the stadium.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford said that rugby’s showcase tournament was an opportunity to highlight issues such as public service cutbacks.

“There is a lot of talk at the moment in different groups about actions at the time of the World Cup,” she told the Herald.

“I think there will certainly be protests at that time.”

Maori activists said earlier this year that they would also consider using the World Cup to air the indigenous community’s grievances.

At the time, Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said demonstrators risked a strong public backlash if they took to the streets during the event, which is being held in New Zealand for the first time since 1987.

“Where the country is trying to put its whole collective foot forward, I don’t think you will find people want to spoil that,” he said.

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