Activist Brazil soccer star is moving to China

Updated: 2014-03-02 17:10

By JACK FREIFELDER in New York (China Daily Latin America)

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Paulo Andre — a Brazilian soccer player and leader of the Brazilian rights movement Bom Senso FC — announced that he is transferring from Brazilian club Corinthians Paulista to China's Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, according to Agence France-Presse.

The 30-year-old defender, who had been with Corinthians since 2009, said he felt it was the right time to go.

Activist Brazil soccer star is moving to China 

Paulo Andre of Corinthians in action during a training session of Corinthians Joaquim Grava training center on July 11, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Paulo Fischer / Getty Images 

"I had many happy moments here and thank Corinthians for all these years and titles we have accomplished together," Andre said during a Feb 12 press conference. "It's a feeling of accomplishment, but it's also a difficult time. Having done my best on and off the field and always honoring and trying to work for the club will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.

"These were five years that changed my life," Andre added.

Andre is well-known for his play on the field but his leadership of the Bom Senso FC movement, which seeks to improve soccer players' living conditions, is arguably his most important off-field endeavor.

The Bom Senso FC movement calls for fundamental changes to Brazil's overly crowded professional soccer calendar and its concept of financial fair play.

In the early months of the year, the state championships in Brazil dominate the agenda and immediately on its heels comes the Brasileirao, Brazil's premier club soccer competition.

Tim Vickery — an English soccer journalist based in Brazil who writes for ESPN — said the scheduling problem is the main issue facing Brazilian clubs.

"The most basic common sense requires that any long league campaign be preceded by a pause — Brazil has no such pause," Vickery said on ESPN's soccer blog.

"This type of arrangement throws Brazil out of kilter with the rest of the world, and it makes it very hard for clubs to travel and compete in lucrative preseason tournaments," Vickery added. "At the best of times, this is an unsatisfactory arrangement."

Writer James Young, who covers Brazilian soccer for London-based newspaper The Independent, said due to the break for the 2014 World Cup "major changes would only be possible in 2015".

Some of the most well known names in Brazilian football have joined the Bom Senso movement — including Dida, Rogerio Ceni and Alex, among others — which has criticized the Brazilian Football Confederation's (CBF) lack of interest in the movement's demands, according to Xinhua.

In April 2013, Brazil's Corinthians was 16th on Forbes' annual ranking of the top 20 most valuable soccer franchises. With a value of $358 million (843 million real), the club is the first non-European team to ever make the Forbes list.

The Brazilian club has had a good deal of success in recent years, including winning the Campeonato Brasileirao in 2011, both the Copa Liberatadores and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2012, and the Campeonato Paulista most recently in 2013.

The 103-year-old club, which currently plays in Sao Paulo at the Estádio do Pacaembu, is also in the process of building a new stadium, Arena Corinthians.

With estimated costs of $361.1 million (850 million real), the team expects Arena Corinthians to be completed in time to host the first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, according to a Jan 20 report from Reuters.

Young added that though soccer may seem like an odd field of battle "compared to other causes in Brazil", the Bom Senso group "continues to grow".

"Bom Senso is a reflection of the desire for social change that took hold of the country in June — a desire that has not gone away, and will almost certainly manifest itself again at the World Cup," Young said. "It seems that these protesting players will not be forgotten as easily as the Brazilian footballing establishment might like."