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After German mauling, Brazil seeks soccer overhaul

AFP
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA President Joseph Blatter stand next to the World Cup trophy during its presentation in Brasilia on June 2, 2014
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Sao Paulo (AFP) - Brazil's players and the coach asked for the fans' forgiveness after their record 7-1 mauling by Germany.

But the shock of the defeat in Belo Horizonte remains and Brazilians are now demanding a root and branch overhaul of its football.

Amid concerns the sport is poorly administered and too many young players take their talents abroad, President Dilma Rousseff has taken up the cause.

"What is the main attraction going to a match for a country which likes football? It is to see the top stars, the 'cracks'," Rousseff told US broadcaster CNN in a midweek interview.

"There are many Brazilian cracks who have long been out of the country.

"Brazil can no longer continue to export its players. That results in no longer having the main attraction to fill the stadiums," she argued.

Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo was blunter.

"We are providers of raw materials and importers of finished products," he complained in demanding radical changes to the domestic game.

- Young, monied emigres -

The statistics bear out the high-profile critics.

From June 2011 to June 2014, 5,526 Brazilian players were transferred -- comprising as 13 percent share of the global market, according to FIFA statistics.

In the same period 2,311 Brazilian players left the country, primarily for Europe, 199 of them still in their teens.

The vast majority of the Brazil World Cup squad are foreign-based, again primarily in Europe, where higher salaries are on offer.

Skipper Thiago Silva left in 2004 for Porto aged 20; defender David Luiz joined Benfica aged 19 in 2007; Chelsea snapped up Oscar in 2012 aged 19 and Neymar was off to Barcelona at 21.

Just four of Luiz Felipe Scolari's squad play in the Brazilian league -- much maligned striker Fred with Fluminense and reserve Jo of Atletico Mineiro, plus two reserve goalkeepers.

Scolari said the huge scale of the migration harmed the national side.

"Today, it is very difficult to get a player from the Selecao to play in our (Brazilian) style," said the 2002 World Cup-winning coach.

"They left Brazil very early and have taken on a foreign way of playing.

"Then when they join up with the squad, they find it hard to play with the Brazilians."

Former international star Zico put the problem in stark relief.

"We must revise the way we train our players. When you are selecting you mustn't look at who is the biggest, the strongest -- as happens with the clubs.

"You have to work with the ones who have the talent. There must be radical change in the way the Selecao is managed," added Zico in an article published in Globo daily.

- Packed calendar -

Romario, a world champion in 1994 and now a Socialist lawmaker, says the problem is political and says the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) must shoulder the blame.

Jose Maria Marin, outgoing chairman of the CBF) and Marco Polo Del Nero, who will acceed to the post next year, "should be in prison," Romario said in a midweek post to social media.

He also blasted the game's leadership as corrupt.

The debate on the national side comes with club sides laboring under a huge debt pile of around $2 billion while some top flight sides have struggled to pay salaries.

Then there are fixture issues.

In Brazil, 583 of 684 professional clubs do not have an annual fixture list and only play 19 matches a year -- meaning 82 percent of players are out of work for six months.

"The CBF's power structure needs to be demolished," said Walter De Mattos Junior, editor and founder of sports daily Lance after the Germany match.

To try to put the country's footballing house in order the Bom Senso (common sense) collective has managed to get the CBF to approve a reform from next year allowing the players to have a month-long pre-season.

A further reform would involve stipulating the number of matches they must play.

Two steps at along the path to, if not revolution, then modernization.

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