Brazil Soccer Players Revolt Over Packed 2014 Playing Schedule

A group of 75 players from Brazil’s top two soccer leagues are complaining that their health is at risk because their clubs’ schedules next season will be compressed to accommodate the World Cup.

The group, which includes well-known players including Alexandre Pato of Corinthians, Vasco da Gama’s Juninho Pernambucano and Luis Fabiano of Sao Paulo, wrote to the sport’s governing body following the publication of a schedule that will have fewer rest days for Brazilian teams.

“We believe that taking this first step means moving toward professionalism, transparency and the pursuit of excellence in soccer,” the players said in their letter, according to daily newspaper O Globo. “We have the support of other athletes and invite all professional football and those passionate about the sport to join us.”

A spokesman for Brazil’s soccer body Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol, or CBF, said the organization had yet to receive the letter.

The Brazilian teams play more matches than clubs from most countries, a schedule that brings criticism from players and supporters alike.

As well as the national league, Brazilian clubs take part in state championships, the domestic cup and South American regional competitions such as the Copa Libertadores. Some players will have just a week to get ready for the start of state championships in January.

“The first main goal is the health of every athlete and concern for Brazilian football,” Flamengo defender Leo Moura told O Globo. “With this marathon of games it’s impossible for a human being to maintain the level of excellence and quality to play good football.”

Under proposals drawn up by the group, players shouldn’t compete in more than seven games a month, according to Folha de S.Paulo. The newspaper also said players would like to harmonize the Brazilian calendar with that of European leagues, which typically have seasons that run from August through May.

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