Chelsea defender David Luiz led his Brazil teammates in speaking out in support of mass protests in the country that have overshadowed the start of the Confederations Cup.
Some 250,000 people took to the streets of major cities on Monday to protest against public transport price hikes and the billions of dollars invested in major sporting events at the alleged expense of health and education.
The demonstrations are the biggest Brazil has witnessed in 20 years and come at a time when the country is desperate to prove it is prepared to host events such as the Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup.
Although the protest marches have been largely peaceful, there have been several clashes between protesters and police. “I’m in favor of demonstrations without violence,” Luiz said during a press conference prior to Brazil’s match against Mexico in Fortaleza.
“I’m Brazilian, even though I live abroad, and I always hope that Brazil will progress,” he said. “The demonstrators are fighting for health and education. We hope that we can reach a consensus. Of course, we’re not happy when we see the violence.”
Luiz’s national teammate Dani Alves, the Barcelona full-back, also gave his backing to the protesters, who are mostly young people.
Two hurt in protest
At least two people were injured Wednesday near a stadium in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza when demonstrators protesting government spending for the World Cup clashed with police.
Some of the roughly 10,000 protesters at the site — where Brazil was to play Mexico later in the day in a Confederations Cup match — hurled stones at security forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. One person suffered an eye injury and a second was taken away on a stretcher.