Outrage as Brazilian football club signs convicted killer
A Brazilian club has unveiled its newest member, a goalkeeper convicted in the killing of an ex-girlfriend, prompting outrage across the nation and promises by sponsors to drop out.
Boa Esporte's contract for Bruno Fernandes de Souza ignored widespread criticism after the team expressed plans to sign the former star player.
Souza was recently released from prison while he appeals a 22-year sentence in the 2010 killing of a former girlfriend, Eliza Samudio. He was found to have feed her body to dogs after the killing.
A Supreme Court justice ordered his release on the grounds that his appeal to a higher court was languishing.
In a news conference transmitted by ESPN Brazil Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time), Souza said he was thankful for the opportunity and had been preparing himself for years to return to play.
"People run from me because of what happened in the past," said Souza, wearing a team shirt. "Boa is opening the doors (for me). I'm very happy, motivated."
At least five sponsors have said they will drop the team in protest. The city of Varginha, about 400 kilometres northwest of Rio de Janeiro, also said it was looking into whether it was legally possible to break with the team, which uses its facilities.
In a Facebook post, club president Rone Moraes da Costa defended the decision, saying all laws had been followed and that the second-division club was doing its part to help a man recover.
"Who has never heard (it said) that work dignifies a man?" he wrote.
Many Brazilians, from Esporte fans to women's groups, strongly disagreed, and thousands of angry comments were posted on the team's Facebook page.
"I will cheer on Boa Esporte if the team plays terribly in every game," wrote Rodrigo Marcos Costa below the club president's message. "A team that hires a killer doesn't deserve anybody's respect."
Souza, 32, previously starred for Rio de Janeiro-based Flamengo.