RIO DE JANEIRO (REUTERS) - Former Brazil forward Romario has described world football governingbody Fifa as "the real president of Brazil" and said the money spent on stadiums for the 2014 World Cup could have been used to build thousands of new schools.
Romario, who led Brazil's attack when they won the 1994 World Cup and is now a congressman, said Brazil had spent more than twice as much on hosting the World Cup as Germany did in 2006 and South Africa four years later.
"That is taking the piss," he said in a video posted the web sites of several Brazilian newspapers. "It's taking the piss with our money, with the public's money, it's a lack of respect, a lack of scruples."
"The real president of our country is Fifa," he added. "Fifa comes to our country and sets up a state within a state.
"Fifa will make a profit of billions. They come, set up the circus, they don't spend anything and they take everything with them."
Romario said the money spent on stadiums so far was enough to provide "8,000 new schools, 39,000 school buses or 28,000 sports courts in the whole country".
Brazil has been hit by a wave of nationwide protests as it stages the eight-team Confederations Cup, which is considered a dry run for next year's World Cup. The amount of money spent on stadiums is among the protestors' many grievances.
The World Cup will be staged in 12 stadiums, either built from scratch or completely refurbished. Brazil is spending around US$12.9 billion (S$16.6 billion) on the event.