South American Football - Brazilian players demand changes to 2014 season calendar

Brazilian footballers have called on their governing body to review the calendar for the season surrounding the 2014 World Cup because of the large number of proposed games and short pre-season.

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Neymar of Brazil (Reuters)

A group of more than 70 players said they were "worried" and called for the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to sit down and discuss changes they classed as "extremely necessary".

"Due to the short period of time proposed for (pre-season) preparations and the high number of games to be played without a break we decided to get together to discuss ways of improving the quality of the spectacle we present for millions of supporters," the players wrote in an open letter to the CBF.

At least 18 former and current Brazil internationals signed the petition, including ex-AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato, former Real Madrid midfielder Julio Baptista, goalkeepers Jefferson and Diego Cavalieri, and former Arsenal captain Gilberto Silva, who is now with Atletico Mineiro.

The players called themselves Common Sense FC.

The move comes less than a week after the CBF released the 2014 schedule. The season begins on Jan. 12 with state championship matches and runs until mid-December.

With first, second and third division games halted for a month because of the World Cup, clubs are being asked to play more matches in midweek to compensate.

All in all, the CBF has made provision for 11 competitions, while the national team will also play friendly matches.

"How are we expected to prepare and plan?" an exasperated Alex, the former Fenerbahce midfielder now with Coritiba, said on TV last month.

The protest is almost unprecedented in Brazilian football, where decisions are taken by the CBF, state federations and the powerful television companies who screen games.

It comes, however, amid growing unease about Brazil's schedule, which asks teams to play state championships from January to April, then national championships from May to December.

Many clubs and players have called on the CBF to align their calendar more closely with Europe's August-to-May program to minimise disruption.

Teams often lose their best players when the European transfer window is open in August.

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