RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 8 -- Former Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says the likelihood of widespread protests during this year's World Cup will not threaten the tournament's success.
"Brazil is a democratic country and the people have the right to protest," Lula said in an interview with local media. "Democracy isn't a pact for silence, it's a society that strives for victories."
Mass anti-government rallies that began during last year's Confederations Cup - a World Cup warm-up tournament - have continued in Brazil's major cities.
Many Brazilians are upset that public funds are being spent on World Cup stadiums instead of essential services like health, education and transport.
"In many cities in the world there have been protests during World Cups and Olympics. That won't stop Brazil from hosting the best World Cup," Lula added.
Football's signature event will be held in 12 Brazilian cities from June 12 to July 13.