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Jun 20, 2013

Pele calls for end to protests in Brazil

Brazil legend Pele has urged protesters in his homeland to leave the streets and focus on football.

• Duarte: Issues unmasked

Demonstrations continued across Brazil on Thursday with protesters notably blocking the main access road to the Arena Castelao, in Fortaleza.

The protest was the latest of a wave in recent days that has marred the ongoing Confederations Cup, and has been organised by groups demanding better public services and complaining about the local government.

"Let's forget all this commotion happening in Brazil, all these protests, and let's remember how the Brazilian squad is our country and our blood," Pele told O Globo.

The former Santos player's appeal, however, was soon derided on social media, with many claiming that his wealth meant he was unable to emphasise with the ordinary Brazilian.

Another former Brazil international, Ronaldo, was also criticised after commenting that "you can't hold a World Cup with hospitals", in response to the protests over the billions spent on stadiums that many Brazilians feel would have been better invested in public amenities.

Meanwhile, two of the country's biggest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, have struck an agreement to revoke an increase in public transportation fares, that first helped spark the nationwide demonstrations.

Sao Paulo state Governor, Geraldo Alckmin, announcing a reduction in fares to their level before the hike, called it "important... so the city can have the tranquility needed to debate issues calmly".

The Selecao picked up their second win of the Confederations Cup on Thursday with a 2-0 defeat of Mexico.

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