Brazilian players promise more protests

Brazilian players say they are planning more protests against
the national federation if changes are not made to the country’s
jammed football calendar.

All players in the seven Brazilian league matches on Wednesday
crossed their arms for several moments at the start of the games to
show their discontentment with the federation, saying officials
haven’t taken their demands seriously.

Corinthians defender Paulo Andre, one of the leaders of the
movement called ”Common Sense Football Club,” said the players
won’t stop protesting until they see that the federation is
committed to make changes in the coming years.

”We will escalate the protests if the federation doesn’t
respond to our demands,” Paulo Andre told reporters early
Thursday. ”This is historic for Brazilian football. Players know
what they are doing and they know the importance of this movement.
They are engaged.”

The players say a more organized calendar is key to improving
football in Brazil. They argue that a season with teams playing
fewer matches will lead to improved quality on the field and
increased attendance. The players’ demands include adequate
vacation time, longer preseasons and giving players more influence
in major decisions. They also want punishment for teams that don’t
pay salaries on time and complain of the influence of television
rights holders.

Although players haven’t said how they plan to protest in the
coming matches, local media said they will likely increase the time
they stay with their arms crossed during matches. There’s also been
talk they might enter the matches wearing clown noses.

On Wednesday, players refused to kick off and crossed their arms
after the referee’s whistle in some of the matches, while others
put the ball in play before stopping and staying motionless. In one
of the matches, the protest happened before the whistle because of
threats that every player on the field would be shown a yellow
card.

To keep from being punished, players in the match between Sao
Paulo and Flamengo started kicking the ball back and forth from one
team to the other, exchanging passes for almost a minute.

Players also entered the matches carrying banners that read
”For a better football for everyone” and ”CBF friends, where’s
the common sense?”

The movement began last month with players from both teams
huddling at midfield before every match, without causing any
disruption.

The Brazilian federation, known locally as CBF, met with the
players a few weeks ago and said it would take all of their demands
into consideration when preparing the new calendars. But players
said they want concrete actions now to guarantee the changes
actually happen in the future.

Messages to the Brazilian federation were not immediately
answered on Thursday.

CBF officials say little can be done for next year because the
World Cup will shorten the season.

”We understand the problems in the 2014 calendar and we accept
making a concession there, but if nothing is done for 2015 we
likely won’t be playing that year,” Paulo Andre said. ”It makes
no sense to go against this movement. The only thing they can do is
punish all 20 team and all players. This is important for football,
everybody knows that things must improve.”

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