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
Romario has called on his fellow Brazilians to put
demonstrations 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,"
"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
Brazil next face Mexico on June 17 before clashing with
Cameroon in the final group game on June 23.