Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has held crisis talks over the recent unrest in the country. More than 1 million people took to the streets overnight in anti-government protests one year before the World Cup.
Rousseff did not comment to the press on Friday after meeting with ministers to strategize ways the government could take initiative amid Brazil's unrest.
An estimated 1.25 million people marched through cities across Brazil Thursday night to demand better public services and criticize the huge costs the country must bear by hosting the World Cup as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Protesters are angry that the money spent on those events is not being put towards lowering Brazil's high crime rate and raising education standards.
Cities had also increased prices for bus and metro service last week, sparking demonstrations that quickly snowballed into a nationwide phenomenon via social networks. Like Rio, Sao Paulo rescinded the price hikes on Wednesday in the face of public unrest.
"We must understand that these demonstrations are calling for change. They signal popular dissatisfaction," said the president's chief of staff, Gilberto Carvalho. "This big group of Brazilians who emerged from exclusion to become consumers want new rights and this is all good."
Confederations Cup going ahead
The protesters have overshadowed the Confederations Cup, which is seen as a warm-up to the World Cup. Several of the protests have been held outside the stadiums where matches are being played and one is scheduled for the day of the final on June 30 at the Maracana in Rio.
Despite the unrest, FIFA has vowed to continue with the tournament and ruled out canceling any games.
"At no stage, I repeat, no stage, has FIFA, the Local Organizing Committee, nor the federal government discussed or considered canceling the Confederations Cup," FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said.
He told reporters that the eight national teams involved in the tournament are being kept up to date on the security situation in Brazil.
"We have not received any requests to leave from any teams," Odriozola said, adding the rumor that the Italian squad had requested to exit was "absurd."
dr/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)