Neymar: Protests are sad for Brazil

The iconic footballer has spoken of his sympathy for the people demonstrating about the pace of public service reforms in his homeland
By Eric Gomez in Fortaleza

Neymar has come out in support of anti-World Cup demonstrators on Wednesday as thousands have taken to the streets of Fortaleza to protest during Confederations Cup action.

The main road connecting the beachfront city to the newly-renovated Castelao 
Protests in the streets, but support from the stands
"World Cup will not solve Brazil's social problem"
stadium was lined with protesters, forcing local police to issue a blockade of vehicles attempting to reach the arena in both directions.

After a hike in transportation fees was announced by the government, thousands across the South American nation have taken to the streets to protest what they perceive as government mismanagement, with funds and public works intended to benefit the country beyond the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup.

Neymar wrote on his official Instagram page ahead of the Brazil-Mexico match: "I'm sad for everything that's happening in Brazil.

"I've always had faith that it wouldn't be necessary to get to this point, of having to take over the streets, to demand for better transportation, health, education and safety - these are all government's obligations.

"My parents worked really hard to offer me and my sister a good quality life. Today, thanks to the success that fans have afforded me, it might seem like a lot of demagogy from me - but it isn't - raising the flag of the protests that are happening in Brazil. But I am Brazilian and I love my country.

"I have family and friends who live in Brazil! That's why I want a Brazil that is fair and safe and healthier and more honest! The only way I have to represent Brazil is on the pitch, playing football and I'll get on the pitch inspired by this mobilisation."

On Tuesday, a day in which groups of dissenters in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and other cities took on tinges of violence as clashes with police were reported, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff called her nation "a stronger country" because of the protests.

"This is evidence of the strength of our democracy," Rousseff stated via a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Luis Fernandes, deputy minister of sport, assured foreign media that there is "widespread support" for the Confederations Cup, World Cup and the Rio Olympics in 2016.