Brazil players registers protest at fixture congestion

Brazilian players stood with their arms crossed for several moments after the start of league matches Wednesday to protest against a fixture overload in the country.

Players in all Brazilian league matches staged the protest. Some refused to kick off after the referee’s whistle, while others put the ball into touch before remaining motionless.

The protests took on a number of guises, with players in the match between Sao Paulo and Flamengo kicking the ball back and forth from one team to the other. They exchanged passes for almost a minute as the referee ran from one side to the other.

Botafogo and Portuguesa linked arms before kick-off to avoid getting yellow cards, but players in the match between Criciuma and Atletico Paranaense waited for the initial whistle before crossing their arms and nobody was shown a card.

The players are unhappy that the Brazilian federation (CBF) hasn’t responded to their demands for a more organized calendar with fewer games.

The protest is part of the “Common Sense Football Club” movement created earlier this year.

“We want the CBF to know that we want more answers and more action to improve our football,” said Corinthians defender Paulo Andre, one of the movement’s leaders, along with former Brazil and Fenerbahce midfielder Alex and veteran Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni.

On Wednesday, players entered the field carrying a banner reading “For a better football for everyone.” Another read: “CBF friends, where’s the common sense?”

“It’s important we have better championships, better football in general,” Vasco da Gama right back Fagner said.

The players have joined forces to try to reduce the notoriously long fixture list, which runs for most of the year and which allows little time for breaks or pre-season preparation. They also want punishment for teams that don’t play salaries on time.

Players met with the Brazilian federation a few weeks ago and were initially told that officials would pay attention to their demands, but decided to keep protesting after little was done after the meeting.

Officials say changes won’t likely happen until 2015, blaming the World Cup for a shorter season next year.

It looks like the World Cup is taking the rap for a lot of things going on in Brazil at the moment.