MANILA, Philippines – Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva of Brazil expressed support for the nonviolent protests happening in his homeland.
Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians have taken to the streets in the past week to protest a variety of issues, including corruption and lack of investments in health care and education.
The protests continued even as the country hosted the Confederations Cup, which is the lead-up to next year’s World Cup.
On Twitter earlier this week, Silva said: “Brazil has to change. These events are evidence that the Brazilian people (are) tired of this bullsh*t.”
In a media conference call to promote his UFC 162 fight, Silva expounded on his tweet.
“I think Brazil’s going through big changes right now, and people are becoming more conscious to what’s going on. Now people are going to the streets in Brazil and demanding from the politicians,” Silva said, as quoted by MMA Mania. [http://www.mmamania.com/2013/6/25/4462406/ufc-162-conference-call-live-updates-today-june-25-silva-vs-weidman-mma]
“I pronounced on Twitter what I thought of the protests. I thought they are valid as long as they are peaceful and have no vandalism,” he added. “As long as people have knowledge of what’s going on and they’re valid, then I think it’s a good thing.”
“Brazil needs to go through some political and economic and educational changes,” he stressed. “I’m supporting and I’m doing what I can do.”
Silva, who will defend his middleweight belt against Chris Weidman on July 6, is not the first high-profile Brazilian athlete to express support for the protesters.
Members of the Brazilian national football team, who yesterday advanced to the finals of the Confederations Cup, have also spoke out in favor of the mass protests in Brazil.
“I’m in favor of demonstrations without violence,” Brazil defender David Luis said last week. “The demonstrators are fighting for health and education. We need unity. We hope that we can reach a consensus and that the future will be better.”
Hulk, who plays football in Russia, said: “Today, I have a privileged social position, but I don’t forget that I come from a poor background. They are right to protest. What they say and what they hope for is in the right direction. We have to listen to what they say.”
On Twitter, striker Fred said: “I’m totally in support of the demonstration, as long as it’s democratic and peaceful. I’m very proud to watch the people fighting to change the standards of public transport, health, education and so many other problems.”
Barcelona’s Neymar, perhaps the most famous active Brazilian player, also voiced his support: “I’m Brazilian and I love my country. I have a family and friends who live in Brazil. For that reason, I want a Brazil which is more just, safer, healthier and more honest.”
“The only way I can represent and defend Brazil is on the pitch, playing football. From now on, I will enter the field inspired by this movement,” he added.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has said that the demonstrations “do not interfere” with the team’s work and supported the players’ right to express their feelings. -- With reports from Reuters, Agence France-Presse