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Players, coaches react to protests in Brazil

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) - Soccer's Confederations Cup, which ends on June 30, and next year's World Cup have been among many targets of the massive demonstrations sweeping Brazil. Some protesters angry at corruption and poor public services are also complaining about the millions of dollars spent on huge stadiums in cities with dire poverty and lack of public services.

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Here are some voices from the men on the fields of play:

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Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil national team coach: ``We all want justice in our country. Those in the government also want this. We can't only crucify them. We all want it and we will work together for that. But it doesn't happen in a day. We have to work together to tackle some issues so that hopefully in one, two, five or 10 years from now things can change.''

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Pele, Brazil's most famous former player: ``There are a lot of bad characters taking advantage of this opportunity and they are hurting these peaceful protests that have been calling for what is best for the Brazilian people. I think we can't allow these bandits and bad characters to get in the way of this opportunity to make demands for our country.''

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Neymar, current Brazilian team star: ``It's sad that it got to a point where we need to go to the streets to demand better conditions. The only way I can represent and defend the country is by playing football, and from now on I'll walk on the field inspired by this movement.''

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Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni: ``I am very sorry and my whole team is very sorry to see that there is a lot of tension at the moment because this means there is dissatisfaction on behalf of the people, and this is not good for society, for social life, for sport, or for anything really.''

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Italy coach Cesare Prandelli: ``As sportsmen we're hoping that tomorrow there is a great football match at the stadium and that nothing happens outside the stadium. It would be a paradox if inside the stadium we're trying to put on a show for the fans and 150 meters outside the stadium there is violence.''

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Italy defender Riccardo Montolivo: ``If someone protests and expresses their unhappiness they should be respected, as long as the protest is done in a non-violent manner.''

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Congressman and former Brazil striker Romario, in a video message: ``Keep protesting, keep going to the streets, always peacefully. It's the only way congressmen will understand that things need to change. Congratulations. More than ever I'm proud to be Brazilian.''

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Brazil defender David Luiz: ``Brazilians love their country and that's why these protests are happening.''

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Brazil striker Fred: ``I'm in favor of the protests as long as they are peaceful. I'm very proud to see the people fighting to improve public transportation, health services and so many other things.''

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Brazil striker Hulk: ``After seeing the people on the streets demanding improvements, it makes me feel like joining them. They are doing the right thing, what they are saying makes sense and we have to hear them. Brazil needs to improve, we all know that.''

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Ricardo Zuniga, Tales Azzoni and Andrew Dampf contributed to this report from Brazil.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
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