Brazilian players promise more protests
SAO PAULO (AP) - 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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