SAO PAULO (AP) — Forced to find alternative grounds before FIFA took over their World Cup stadiums, some Brazilian clubs have arranged to leave town and even their home state to host Brazilian league matches.
Beginning this week, clubs are not allowed to play at the 12 stadiums that will be used during the World Cup, nor at the 24 venues that will be used for training.
Nearly 30 league matches had to alter their venues for the last four rounds before the World Cup break. Of the 20 clubs in the first division, 14 are having to relinquish home-field advantage.
The only World Cup stadium holding a league match before the tournament is the Itaquerao, but only because FIFA requested another test event at the troubled Sao Paulo venue that will host the Brazil-Croatia opener on June 12.
The league will stop on June 1.
"This break is tough for us," Sao Paulo coach Muricy Ramalho said. "We have to practice, we can't just stop. This is a difficult year for all the clubs. The year will only start after the World Cup."
Corinthians is playing at a smaller stadium in Sao Paulo, and Palmeiras will move its matches to interiors cities within the state. Flamengo is hosting some of its matches in a city 180 kilometers (110 miles) from Rio de Janeiro, while Bahia is traveling outside of its home state to play in Sao Paulo.
Defending champion Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro, Internacional and Santos are also affected.
Without a place to practice, some clubs will travel outside of Brazil during the World Cup. Atletico Mineiro will go to China while Argentina uses its training center in Belo Horizonte.
The United States will be the destination for Cruzeiro, which ceded its base to Chile. Sao Paulo, whose training center will be used by the Americans, is expected to travel to the United States.
The clubs also can't use any of the players who have been picked in the 32 national teams coming for the World Cup. Not even the seven alternates who are just on standby in Brazil's squad are allowed to play.
Fluminense tried to appeal to FIFA to have goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri released, but football's governing body denied the request. Cavalieri missed the team's league match against Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
"He won't even train with the national team, it doesn't make sense," Fluminense director Mario Bittencourt said.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni