Football: Brazil fears player exodus

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The Independent Online
A SENIOR Brazilian football official warned yesterday that the game in his country could be plunged into crisis over plans for a Bosman-style law giving players freedom of movement when their contracts end.

Jaime Franco, executive director of Brazil's major club union, the Uniao des Grandes Clubes Brazilieros, said football in the four times World Cup- winning nation risked being seriously undermined if the scheme were allowed to go ahead in two years' time.

Franco said that at the end of 2001, a new Brazilian law would, if passed, allow all players over the age of 20 to move abroad at the end of their contracts without any financial reward to the clubs that had nurtured them.

"We are fighting this because there will be an exodus of players," Franco said. "Brazil has the best players in the world but they will all go to Europe to get more money. That would be disastrous. If we don't have good players, we risk losing our sponsors and our television contracts. It would be a crisis for Brazilian football."

Franco, speaking at the Football Expo conference here, also bemoaned the increasing number of teenagers who, he said, were already leaving Brazil before even signing their first professional contracts, lured by agents of rich European clubs.

"We have around 400 youngsters aged 15 and 16 who are already in Europe, mostly in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland," Franco said. "Agents come over to look at these boys, whose development grows as quickly as grass, and offer them crazy opportunities. Their parents have no jobs so they take the money."

A three-week strike by Greek clubs demanding more state subsidies has been called off for the next two weeks. First, Second and Third Division matches will be played this weekend and the next, officials said. "During this period we will resume talks with the sports under-secretary and we believe we will reach an agreement. If not, our action could be be repeated," a spokesman representing the clubs' union said.

The clubs began their strike on 20 December to push for a greater share of earnings from state-organised football pools and the immediate payment of around $1bn (pounds 617m), a sum owed to them by the sports ministry from last season. The sports under-secretary Andreas Fouras said last week he would consider the demands, softening his original position at the start of the strike when he described them as ridiculous. Most clubs face serious economic problems this season with half-empty stadiums during matches after allegations of corruption and a number of incidents involving hooligans.

Mexican referees, accused of insulting players, may be asked to wear microphones. The Argentinian midfielder Antonio Mohamed, captain of First Division Monterrey, put forward the plan after claiming players were often verbally abused by referees. The idea, proposed during a meeting of team captains and referees, was approved by the officials themselves.