Soccer-Brazilian players' group warns strike is imminent


By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian soccer players on Saturday warned that a strike is "imminent" and criticised the game's domestic ruling body for refusing to negotiate to avert action that would disrupt league matches next year.

Players with Common Sense FC, a pressure group set up to demand fewer top class matches and extended pre-season training, accused the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) of obstinacy and said the season due to start in mid-January will likely be disrupted.

"We have insisted on looking for dialogue but the CBF has given no sign that any changes will occur," the group said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.

"Because no answers have been forthcoming and because of their unwillingness to guarantee improvements in Brazilian football, a strike is now imminent for the start of the 2014 season."

The group of more than 1,000 league players said strike action would only be averted if the CBF changed the fixture list to give more games to provincial teams and fewer matches to the top clubs, and if the authorities implement a system to punish clubs that do not pay their players on time.

The players, including dozens of current and former Brazil internationals have also called for 30 days of close season holidays and more representation on decision-making bodies such as clubs and federations.

The players have acknowledged there is little room for changes in the 2014 season because of the World Cup but they want authorities to discuss changing the calendar for 2015.

The World Cup will take place in Brazil next year, causing the domestic Serie A campaign to take a one-month break but state tournaments will be played from January to April or May.

The players said they would not disrupt Sunday's final league games because they are vital to so many clubs.

Eight games are taking place on Sunday and will decide who qualifies for the Copa Libertadores along with champions Cruzeiro and which two teams will be relegated along with already doomed Nautico and Ponte Preta. (Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Ken Ferris)

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