Brazilian clubs without stadiums because of WCup
SAO PAULO (AP) Brazilian clubs are scrambling to find places to host their league matches because FIFA has taken over many of the country's stadiums and training centers for the World Cup.
Beginning this week, teams are not allowed to play at the 12 stadiums that will be used during the World Cup, nor at the venues to be used for training.
Nearly 30 league matches had to be altered for the last four rounds before the World Cup break. Of the 20 clubs in the first division, 14 have to relinquish home-field advantage.
The only World Cup stadium holding a league match before the tournament is the Itaquerao - but only because FIFA requested another test event at the troubled Sao Paulo venue that will host the Brazil-Croatia opener on June 12.
The Brazilian league will stop on June 1. Only nine of the 38 rounds will be played before the World Cup break.
''This break is tough for us,'' Sao Paulo coach Muricy Ramalho said. ''We have to practice, we can't just stop. This is a difficult year for all the clubs. The year will only start after the World Cup.''
FIFA and the local World Cup organizing committee began taking over the stadiums and training centers this week to make sure final adjustments can be made. In addition to the 12 World Cup stadiums, FIFA and local organizers also took over 24 venues considered official training fields in the host cities.
Defending champion Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro, Internacional and Santos are some of the clubs affected. Others include Corinthians, now playing at a smaller stadium in Sao Paulo, and Palmeiras, which moved its matches to interiors cities within the state. Flamengo is hosting some of its matches in a city 110 miles from Rio de Janeiro, while Bahia is traveling outside of its home state to play in Sao Paulo.
Without a place to practice, some clubs will travel outside Brazil during the World Cup. Atletico Mineiro will travel to China while Argentina uses its training center in Belo Horizonte. The United States will be the destination for Brazilian champion Cruzeiro, which ceded its base to Chile. Sao Paulo, whose training center will be used by the Americans, is also expected to travel to the United States.
In addition to stadiums and training centers, clubs are losing some of their players.
Even though Brazil's preparations won't start until next week, teams can't use any players picked to one of the 32 national teams competing in the World Cup. Not even the seven alternates who are just on standby for Brazil's squad are allowed to play.
Fluminense tried to appeal to FIFA to have goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri released, but football's governing body denied the request. The player missed the team's Brazilian league match against Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
''He won't even train with the national team, it doesn't make sense,'' Fluminense director Mario Bittencourt said.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni