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Americas

Brazil protests win fans among national football team

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-20

At least three members of Brazil’s national football team have come out in support of the protests that have rocked the country since the Confederations Cup tournament started last week, as troops were mobilised to secure host stadiums.

Brazilian football stars have voiced support for huge protests that have swept across the Latin American country since the start of the Confederations Cup, and that have taken issue with the billions the government has spent on organising the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics.

“I'm in favour of demonstrations without violence,” Chelsea defender David Luiz said at a press conference before Brazil's match against Mexico in the northern-eastern city of Fortaleza on Tuesday.

“Citizens have a right to express their opinions…It's a way of achieving their demands and improving the situation in the country,” Luiz said. “The demonstrators are fighting for health and education. We need unity. We hope that we can reach a consensus and that the future will be better.”

PROTESTS CONTINUE TO SPREAD

Scattered street demonstrations popped up around Brazil on Wednesday, continuing in major hubs and moving into smaller cities, with protesters blocking roads in Sao Paulo and marching toward a stadium hosting a major international soccer game in the country’s northeast.

He was seconded by team-mate Hulk at the press conference, who said that he empathised with poor people who wanted better living conditions.

“I came from below, even if today I am in a good social position,” the Zenit Saint Petersburg forward said. “I see the demonstrators and think they are completely right. Brazil needs to improve in many areas.”

Football stars speak out

Hulk, who hails from the poor and arid interior of the state of Paraiba, rejected the idea people were protesting against the World Cup. "It's a triumph for Brazil to have the World Cup. There are millions of people who love football in this country,” he added.

Support from the national team players, who are virtual heroes among the football-crazed Brazilians, also came via social networks.

“Order and Progress without violence for a better Brazil, a peaceful Brazil, an educated, healthy, honest and happy Brazil," wrote Barcelona full-back and International Dani Alves on the photo-sharing web platform Instagram.

Former international Juninho and Real Madrid star Kaka also joined the chorus of footballers supporting the demonstrations, who have asked the government to go back on plans to raise transport fares and have complained of corruption and inadequate social services.

“The giant showing its strength without violence, in favour a better Brazil!!” Kaka wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter on Sunday.

Troops heading to stadiums

While protesters received a thumbs up from football idols, the government said it would deploy a special police force to help ensure security in the cities that are hosting the Confederations Cup.

Federal Police usually called on to deal with social unrest will be sent to five of the six cities where the tournament is being played, according to the Agencia Brasil news agency, which cited the Justice Ministry.

It is the same force that fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters gathered outside Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana stadium on Sunday, a move that was decried as excessive by many and contributed to even larger demonstrations on Monday.

The Confederations Cup, which has been overshadowed by protests since it kicked off on June 15, is considered a test-run for next year’s bigger and more important World Cup.

Date created : 2013-06-19

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