SOUTH African World Cup organisers were yesterday trying to contain a pay dispute with match stewards after a protest following Germany's opening match ended with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets inside the stadium at Durban.
The stewards, who claim they were promised R1,500 (€159.50) but only received R190 (€20), attempted to stage a sit-in after the game but were forced to move into the car park of the Moses Mabhida stadium in the coastal city. Supporters who attended Durban's first World Cup match, Germany's win over Australia on Sunday, had gone by the time the clashes began.
The protest was broken up by police after angry stewards threw bottles and authorities responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Talks were under way yesterday with a security contractor and representatives of the stewards, who provide crowd control at the games after the first unrest at the tournament, which kicked off on Friday.
Rich Mkhondo, spokesman for the South Africa organising committee, said talks were intended to ensure that disputes did not spread to other host cities. He said that pay for the stewards was a matter for the security company Stallion, which had been hired to provide the workers.
"We don't get involved on what an employer pays their employees," he told reporters.
Several people were injured but none critically. One woman who was hit by a rubber bullet was not seriously hurt, police said.
Serious industrial unrest is a regular feature of life in South Africa and transport union workers were striking before the June 11 kick-off.
About 500 stewards were moved out of the stadium by police but then went on the rampage, throwing bottles at the office of the stadium security manager. Police moved in to break up the crowd.
"Security guards hurled bottles and other objects at the office of the security manager, which struck some of the staff, causing slight injuries," said brigadier Phindile Radebe.
He added that his officers had used "minimum force" to disperse protesters. The publicly owned stadium is being operated by FIFA and its local subsidiary during the tournament. (© Independent News Service)