Soccer-Striker Fred slams state championships after red card

By Andrew Downie SAO PAULO, April 5 (Reuters) - The future of Brazil's state championships was called into question again on Sunday by former international striker Fred, who called them a waste of time after being sent off in Fluminense's 3-0 loss to Flamengo at the Maracana. Fred was fouled outside the box after 29 minutes and as he fell forward his hand hit the ball. He was inexplicably given a second yellow card to add to an earlier one for pushing and was sent off. "You have to end the Carioca championship," he angrily told reporters as he left the field. "It can't go on. Not with decisions like that. Football in Rio is over. It's done." The controversy comes just days after the presidents of both Flamengo and Fluminense broke with the Rio de Janeiro Football Federation (Ferj) and said they were examining the possibility of a breakaway league in 2016. Both clubs are angry at the Ferj for setting what they say are too high ticket prices for this season's games. They were also upset at a rule -- that was later withdrawn -- fining any club who criticised the federation. Other top clubs are questioning the viability of the state championships, which were once highly competitive but now mostly attract big crowds only to major derbies. The competitions take place between January and May and precede the national championship, which runs until December. Sunday's result means that Flamengo sit top of the Carioca state championship table, seven points ahead of Fluminense in fifth place. Botafogo are in second spot after coming back from behind to defeat Madureira 4-1 at the Nilton Santos stadium. Vasco da Gama were beaten 5-4 by Figueirense in Rio, and only failed to take a point when they missed their third penalty of the game in stoppage time. In other games, Gremio draew 1-1 at Sao Jose in the Rio Grande do Sul tournament and both Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro lost in the Minas state championship. It was also a bad day for Sao Paulo, who lost 2-0 away to Botafogo-SP. In the biggest game of the day, Corinthians extended their unbeaten run this season to 22 games with a 1-1 home draw against Santos, who are second behind them in the overall table. Palmeiras beat Mogi Mirim 3-1 on Saturday and Internacional managed a 2-0 win at home to Passo Fundo. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)