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 penalty area 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 and said they were examining the possibility of a breakaway league in 2016.
Both clubs are angry at the federation 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 They were also upset at a rule — that was later withdrawn — fining any club who criticized the federation.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 next month 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 Estadio Nilton Santos.
In the biggest game of the day, Corinthians extended their unbeaten run this season to 22 games with a 1-1 draw against Santos, who are second in the overall table.
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