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Thursday, December 11, 1997 Published at 09:55 GMT


Pele's plan to uproot Brazilian game
image: [ On a winning streak: Pele's controversial bill has won approval at the first leg ]
On a winning streak: Pele's controversial bill has won approval at the first leg

Football legend Pele, now Brazil's sports minister, has won support for a bill which aims to make radical changes in the way Brazil's football is organised.

The controversial bill, which has been approved by the lower house of the Brazilian Congress, will oblige football clubs to turn themselves into commercial enterprises and gives players greater freedom to transfer between clubs.

The law was drawn up by Pele despite fierce opposition from the president of football's world governing body FIFA, Joao Havelange.

It is part of Pele's vision to modernise Brazil's national game.

The aim of the new law, which has become known as "Pele's Law" is to make Brazilian football clubs more financially accountable and businesslike, to reduce corruption in the game and give players more freedom to choose who they work for.

The bill also makes clubs much more independent of the Brazilian Football Federation. It is this which has aroused the anger of Joao Havelange.

The FIFA president, who is himself Brazilian, had said he would expel his native country from the World Cup if the bill went through, but has since appeared to have thought better of the threat.

But many clubs are also unhappy with parts of the bill as it will oblige them to pay tax and gives them less control over their players.

Following rowdy scenes at the bill's committee stage, the government agreed to give clubs two years' grace before they are obliged to become companies and it is also allowing them to retain tight control of players under the age of 20.

This vote is a victory for Pele and if it is approved by the Senate he will feel he has been given the green light to push ahead with what he sees as the modernisation of Brazil's national game.

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