Church gives red card to World Cup organisers

Pope Francis may be a die-hard soccer fan, but the Catholic church has given Brazil's World Cup organizers a "red card" for spending billions of dollars on stadiums while failing to improve the country's notoriously poor public services.

In a red card-shaped brochure distributed this week in churches and parishes across the world's biggest Roman Catholic country, Brazil's Bishops Conference urged the Brazilian government to respect people's right to demonstrate against the month-long tournament.

"The Church wants to contribute to the public debate and express its concern with ... the inversion of priorities in the use of public money that should go to health, education, basic sanitation, transportation and security," it said.

That view is shared by many Brazilians who have taken to the streets sporadically over the past year to protest against spending on World Cup stadiums, which are widely viewed as symbols of waste in the South American nation. More protests are expected during the tournament.

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