Brazilian players stand still to protest against corruption

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Professional footballers across Brazil folded their arms and stood still for a short time at the start of end of season matches on Sunday to protest against alleged corruption, organisers said.

Players with last season’s champions Cruzeiro and 2013 Libertadores Cup champions Atletico Mineiro were among those who ignored the referee’s whistle to demand the resignation of Marco Polo Del Nero, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) who was indicted by U.S. authorities on Thursday.

Del Nero has taken leave of absence to fight the charges and maintains his innocence. He was the third CBF president to be indicted or arrested this year.

“This was all pre-arranged,” Alex, a former Coritiba and Fenerbahce player, told Reuters.

“This is in protest against the CBF and the fact that nothing is happening,” he added.

The former Brazil midfielder is one of the leaders of Common Sense FC, a pressure group comprising hundreds of Brazilian footballers who want better organisers and more professional management at their clubs.

“Del Nero must go!” the group’s Twitter said. “We will not be silenced.”

The protests were the latest in similar actions in which players passed the ball between them aimlessly, folded their arms and refused to move and sat down on the turf and refused to play.

Even players with Vasco da Gama and Coritiba, whose meeting will decide who will be relegated to the second division, united in protest.

All 10 of Brazil’s Serie A games kicked off at the same time to avoid any accusations of match-fixing.

Writing by Andrew Downie; editing by Justin Palmer