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Gay rumor rocks
Brazilian soccer

Gay rumor rocks
Brazilian soccer

The director of a prominent soccer team insinuates on national television that a player on a rival team is gay. The player sues for slander and goes on TV to deny it. A judge causes an uproar by saying gays don't belong in Brazilian soccer.

With a narrative like a Latin American soap opera, the flap over the sexual orientation of Sao Paulo midfielder Richarlyson has shaken the hallowed and macho institution of Brazilian soccer.

The commotion started in June when Palmeiras club director Jose Cyrillo Junior was asked on TV whether it was true that a soccer player from his team was negotiating for an exclusive TV interview to announce he was gay.

Cyrillo denied the report but added, "Richarlyson almost played for Palmeiras," suggesting the 24-year-old player was gay.

Cyrillo later apologized, but Richarlyson filed a criminal complaint for slander.

Judge Manoel Maximiano Junqueira Filho stoked the dispute by dismissing Richarlyson's claim and issuing a ruling that suggested he leave the game if he were gay. If he weren't, the judge said, Richarlyson was obliged to defend himself on the same TV program.

"Not that a homosexual can't play soccer," Filho wrote. "He can, but he must form his own team and federation, setting up matches with those who want to play against him."

Soccer, the judge said, is a "virile game" but "not homosexual," and allowing gays could lead to affirmative action for the sport requiring quotas of gays.

The ruling prompted the government body that oversees judicial ethics in Brazil to demand an explanation from the judge, who has until Friday to respond. (AP)

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