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May 26, 2014

Protesters surround Brazil team coach

Protests have continued in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro just a month before the FIFA World Cup is due to start.

Protesters surrounded the coach carrying Brazil's 23-man World Cup squad to a training camp in the mountain city of Teresopolis as it set off from Rio de Janeiro on Monday, chanting against the money being spent on hosting the tournament.

The demonstration -- the latest of several against the government cash used on the event, which many Brazilians feel would have been better spent on education and health -- saw a crowd consisting mainly of education officials demanding better schools waving banners and attaching stickers with anti-World Cup slogans to the team bus.

At last year's Confederations Cup, which also took place in Brazil, regular anti-government and anti-World Cup protests took place, sparking fears among the Brazilian authorities of widespread repeats during the World Cup.

Local officials and FIFA organisers were quick to pledge that they would do everything possible to prevent demonstrations from affecting the tournament, with a heavy security presence expected both at team training camps and around stadiums.

Brazil open the tournament in Sao Paolo when they take on Croatia on June 12, with their other Group A matches against Mexico and Cameroon.

The protests come days after former player Eric Cantona was quoted by Le Parisien as criticising FIFA executive committee vice-president Michel Platini for asking the Brazilian public to stop protesting during the World Cup.

Speaking at a showing of his new documentary, Looking for Rio, which charts the development of some of Brazil's biggest clubs, Cantona, 47, said the UEFA president's call for a tournament truce was likely to go unheeded.

"Platini expects the World Cup to go well, but people just need to be heard -- and they will be heard thanks to the World Cup," the former Manchester United star told the audience at the Eden Theatre in La Ciotat.

"What they're asking for has been carried right around the world for several months now because of this event. That's a positive thing. Of course they are going to take advantage of the World Cup, they're not going to wait for it to be over as Platini asks. That would be pointless."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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