Protestors at the Brazil-Mexico match.
Fans hold signs reading "Not against the Brazilian team - against corruption" during the match between Brazil and Mexico in Fortaleza. AP

Members of the Brazilian national soccer team have shown support for the nearly 240,000 demonstrators who have flooded into the streets of 10 Brazilian cities in the largest protests since those which ushered in the end of the military dictatorship which Brazil from 1964-1985. David Luiz, a defender who plays for Chelsea, said during a press conference prior to Brazil's match with Mexico in Fortaleza on Wednesday that he was in favor of "demonstrations without violence," adding, "Citizens have a right to express their opinions and the fact they're not happy. It's a way of achieving their demands and improving the situation in the country."

Watch a video statement by protest group #ChangeBrazil below.

Luis continued, "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. Of course, we're not happy when we see the violence."

On Tuesday, protesters in Sao Paulo set fire to a news stand and smashed the doors of city hall. In Fortaleza on Wednesday, protesters trying to get near the stadium clashed with police. At least four officers and one demonstrator were injured. In Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, authorities reported arrests and minor injuries after police used rubber bullets and tear gas to keep demonstrators from blocking fans who sought to watch the matches.

"The only thing we won't support is violence," Luiz said. "I'm in favor of the right to express your opinion, but only if it's done peacefully."

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Dani Alves, a fullback who plays for Barcelona, gave his backing to the protesters on his Instagram account, writing, "Order and Progress without violence for a better Brazil, a peaceful Brazil, an educated, healthy, honest and happy Brazil."

Previously, players had been avoiding the topic of the protests in what the Associated Press described as an attempt to keep the issue from distracting the team.

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Striker Givanildo Vieira de Souza, better known simply as Hulk, recalled his impoverished upbringing and said, "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. Brazil needs to progress in lots of areas and that's why we support them. We know they're telling the truth."

Global star Pele differed from players on the national team with comments that drew scorn on social media platforms. "Let's forget all this commotion happening in Brazil, all these protests, and let's remember how the Brazilian squad is our country and our blood," he said.

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The protests were originally sparked by a hike in public transportation rates and came to express Brazilians' frustrations with poor public services, inequality, and corruption in the South American nation. Many of the demonstrators say the nation does not need to host the World Cup in 2014, either. A young woman in another video by #ChangeBrazil said, "Suddenly there's all this money to build stadiums and the population is led to believe that the World Cup is just the change they needed for their lives to get better. But the truth is that most of the money that comes from the games and the stadiums goes straight to FIFA, and we don't even see it."

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