SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's national soccer coach says the street protests planned for the World Cup could hurt his team's chances of winning the title.
Luiz Felipe Scolari added that although Brazilians have the right to complain about the government and demand improvements, the protests might not be coming at the "right time."
In an interview with Globo TV on Sunday, the coach said the protests "could, big-time" affect his players' performance. But he will not prohibit them from talking about the subject during the tournament.
Violent anti-government protests rippled across Brazil last year, with people demanding better services and questioning the billions being spent on the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics. The protests have since diminished in size, but they are widely expected again leading to soccer's showcase tournament.
"I think the protests can happen," Scolari said. "If they are peaceful, then that's democracy. Everyone has the right to protest. But I don't know if it's the right time."
The coach had already tried to distance the national team from the protests during last year's Confederations Cup, when the largest public demonstrations in a generation took place at the start of the warmup tournament. There were protests in all six host cities, although matches and teams were not directly affected, and Brazil went on to win the title.
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