Romario calls on Brazilians to protest during World Cup

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Romario lashed out at the "corrupt thieves" running FIFA and the Brazilian Football Confederation on Wednesday and encouraged his compatriots to protest against corruption during next year's World Cup.

The former Brazil striker turned Congressman said too much money was being spent on organising the tournament and not enough on the vital infrastructure which Brazil needs.

Millions of people took to the streets during June's Confederations Cup in Brazil to demonstrate against the lack of spending in public services and Romario called on people to keep up their protests until the presidential elections next October.

"I want people to see where their money is being spent and I am sure my message is getting across," he said in an interview with Radio Globo.

"One of the big positives is that people have taken to the streets and I want them to keep protesting up until the elections next year, and I believe they will."

Brazil won the right to host the World Cup in 2007 but delayed almost two years before naming the host cities.

Some of the six stadiums used in the Confederations Cup were completed late and over budget, and the same fate could befall a few of the remaining six that are due to be completed in December.

Public transportation projects in at least five host venues will not be ready before the tournament begins in June and plans for metro lines and bus lanes in some cities have been cancelled altogether.

Romario, the former Barcelona, Flamengo and Vasco da Gama forward, was critical of such shoddy organisation and launched a scathing attack on Jose Maria Marin, the president of the CBF, and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

They, along with Marin's predecessor Ricardo Teixeira, who resigned last year after facing a string of corruption allegations, are "three corrupt thieves with no ethics," Romario said.

"I am not against the World Cup but I can't be for the money that is being spent on it," he said. "As much as we want the World Cup the Brazilian people deserve respect, they don't deserve this open abuse of their money."

(Writing by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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