Brazil champ Fluminense in danger of relegation


SAO PAULO, BRAZIL (BDCi) — This time last year, Fluminense was celebrating its second Brazilian title in three years and now it is fighting to avoid relegation.

Fluminense fell to rival Flamengo 1-0, a result that extended its winless streak to eight matches and left the team in 16th place in the 20-team standings with five rounds left. The bottom four clubs are relegated.

Fluminense,a four-time champion, is trying to avoid being the first defending champion to be demoted in the Brazilian league.

“It’s sad because we played well again and had several chances to score,” striker Rafael Sobis said. “But things are not going our way. It’s tough, football is not fair sometimes. We have to keep fighting, because if we lower our heads now, then its over.”

Some fans protested by invading team headquarters early Monday and local media reported that they threw trash onto one of the team’s training fields, destroyed sponsors’ billboards and damaged some of the cars in the parking lot, including some belonging to players.

One of the reasons for the team’s recent struggles is the absence of Brazil striker Fred who has been nursing a right muscle injury since September. It is unclear if he will be available again before the end of the championship.

Fred was part of the Fluminense team that escaped relegation with a remarkable run in 2009, winning six of the last seven matches to barely remain in the top flight. The following year, it won the league title and again in 2012.