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The World Cup has finally kicked off and the Selecao legend - who has taken up politics with his playing career behind him - hopes the protests are put on pause

Romario has called on his fellow Brazilians to put demonstations on hold and celebrate the World Cup.

Brazil kicked off the tournament with an enthralling 3-1 win over Croatia on Thursday, but there remains a strong antipathy from some of the population towards funding for the World Cup when so much of the country is in poverty.

But the 1994 World Cup winner, who took up politics after hanging up his boots, believes the riots at the Confederations Cup last year and the protests this summer have made their message known and hopes Selecao supporters can now turn their attention towards the action on the pitch.

"I think the message sent by the demonstrations in Brazil has been sent and the protests left a legacy of political awareness to Brazilians," Romario told BBC Brasil.

"Brazil still has very serious social problems, I think corruption is the worst of them, and it is the trigger for several other ills, such as violence, which is a reflection of social exclusion and lack of investment in education.

"But the everyday Brazilian does not like to sweep anything under the rug - the population is the first to tell the world about the country's problems.

"We are able to support our national team but also to show our grievances. But right now it is time to enjoy the party."

The World Cup has shone a spotlight on the housing conditions in the urban sprawl of cities like Rio de Janeiro, but the former Barcelona striker does not feel the favelas are something to be ashamed of.

"The message the country wants to send is that it is one of stunning natural beauty, cultural diversity, joy and football," Romario added.

"I think the favelas of Brazil keep our essence, they are full of people with joy and creativity, despite the harsh reality in which they live.

"Moreover, the favelas of Rio, for example, are a cultural melting pot and some have the most beautiful views of the city."

Brazil next face Mexico on June 17 before clashing with Cameroon in the final group game on June 23.

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