No sex before games? Brazilian players test club controls

Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:16pm EST
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By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The Brazilian tradition of the concentracao - sequestering teams before matches and shielding them from temptations such as sex and alcohol - is under threat as players take a stand against the late payment of wages.

So far this year players at Botafogo, Portuguesa and Vasco da Gama have refused to attend the concentracao because their salaries were not paid on time.

Although only Botafogo's players have maintained the boycott, their action has led to a reappraisal of the ritual and raised questions over the integrity of Brazilian players.

"Football is all about results, and if Vasco and Botafogo can show that they perform better without the concentracao then other teams will adhere," said Lucio Surubin, the director of football at recently relegated Nautico.

"But it is hard. If I had responsible and conscientious professionals I wouldn't have any qualms about ending the concentracao. But I don't."

The concentracao is a long-standing institution used to control players. Teams gather in hotels or at the club training ground for one or two nights before matches so staff can monitor the players, prepare them for games and keep them away from outside influences.

Botafogo's players rebelled at the start of the year. The club had not paid their salaries for several weeks and the players abandoned the concentracao in protest.

The experiment proved successful and continued even after their salaries were paid.   Continued...

Felipe Bastos (L) of Brazil's Ponte Preta celebrates after he scored a goal during their Copa Sudamericana first leg final soccer match against Argentina's Lanus in Sao Paulo December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker