Coach wants Brazil to play fair in World Cup

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A Brazilian player who handles the ball into the net during the World Cup or gains advantage by cheating should admit his mistake to the referee, Brazil coach Tite said in an interview published on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - Brazil's national soccer team training - Sao Paulo, Brazil - October 9, 2017 - Brazil's head coach Tite attends his squad training session ahead of their match against Chile. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File photo

“A player of mine who sees the referee give something wrong in his favour, he can speak up,” Tite told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. “He really should say something.

“If it’s a handball, he has my blessing. There’s no problem if I am criticised. My conscience and my principles are what matter.”

Fair play has been a hot topic in Brazil this year after two incidents involving Jo, the former Manchester City and Everton striker who is now at Tite’s old club Corinthians.

Jo was about to be booked in a game against Sao Paulo in April but his opponent, Brazil centre half Rodrigo Caio, was roundly praised for telling the referee it was he who caught the Sao Paulo goalkeeper in a three-way challenge and not Jo.

A few months later, Jo bundled the ball into the net with his arm to give Corinthians a 1-0 win over Vasco da Gama. The player denied the handball in interviews at halftime and fulltime, in spite of video evidence showing the incident.

He later admitted his mistake.

Tite acknowledged he has in the past told players to go down or break up play but said he has learnt from his mistakes and wanted his players to embrace fair play.

The coach, who is unbeaten in 12 competitive matches since taking over in June last year, has transformed Brazil’s fortunes and they are one of the favourites for next year’s tournament in Russia, along with Germany, Spain, France and Belgium.

The five-times World Cup winners will play England and Japan in November friendlies.

Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond