Rio de Janeiro, May 16: A Brazilian court has found national first division club Atletico Mineiro guilty of exploitation of minors.
The Belo Horizonte-based club was ordered Tuesday to immediately cease its football training programmes for children under the age of 14, Xinhua reported.
In a decision likely to have wider implications on the game in Brazil, Judge Mauro Elvas Carvalho said the practice encouraged “selectivity and hyper-competitiveness” among children.
The ruling came after Brazil’s public ministry requested an investigation into the programs, claiming they amounted to child labour and therefore contravened laws in by the federal constitution.
In one testimony, the court heard children as young as 11 were forced to train from lunchtime until 7 p.m., arriving home exhausted and hungry.
The ministry said several clubs from other Brazilian states were being investigated for similar offences. Sao Paulo’s Portuguesa Santista has also been found guilty.
Atletico Mineiro has denied any wrongdoing and is expected to appeal the decision.