By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The Brazilian Football Confederation gave its qualified blessing to a new cup competition of 12 teams on Tuesday, but the tournament’s future remains in doubt as clubs and federations debate its dates and format.
Although the four big Sao Paulo sides have opted out, clubs from Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte have signed up for the 2016 Copa Sul-Minas-Rio, along with others from the southern states of Parana and Santa Catarina.
Flamengo, Fluminense, Gremio and Cruzeiro are among the top sides participating.
The competition is slated to be contested on nine dates starting in late January and ending in late March, organisers said.
However, the CBF said they wanted more consultation after powerful state federation bosses met in Rio.
“The CBF will not oppose this tournament happening as long as central organising elements are respected,” CBF secretary general Walter Feldman told reporters.
“If there is no conflict of schedules with the state championships, the Libertadores Cup, and the Brazilian Cup, and if it respects the right of workers to have 60 hours break between games then problems can be overcome and the tournament can be approved.”
“We will keep talking so those difficulties can be resolved.”
Unlike in most European countries, Brazil’s leagues are run by the national confederation rather than by the clubs indirectly.
The Copa Sul-Minas-Rio would be the first independent competition and some members of the CBF are worried it could be the first step towards a breakaway organisation.
The dates also come amid state championship and Libertadores Cup action.
A legal advisor to the new competition said they had no comment about the CBF’s provisional backing.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)