. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Brazilian Thuggery Mars Game

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian television stations are among the world's leading clients for Hollywood's more bloodthirsty productions.

But the thuggery which has crept over into the primetime slots is very much a local production: the Brazilian soccer championship.

Brazilian domestic football is not for the squeamish.

The national team has always been associated with moments of skill and magic, but fans watching a domestic clash between two leading clubs are more likely to see players lunging at each others' legs with reckless two-footed challenges.

"The violence in Brazilian football today is a disgrace," said former international Gerson, now a television commentator.

The source of his anger was a clash between leading clubs Flamengo and Corinthians, a game symbolic of the rest of the competition.

In the very first minute, Flamengo lightweight striker Savio was knocked over by a vicious challenge from behind by Corinthians defender Alexandre Lopes.

Yet, in a decision which critics say is indicative of Brazilian refereeing, the giant defender got away with only a yellow card. Coaches are accused of complaining about violence when it is against their own players but ignoring it when it is carried out by their own side.

Throughout the match with Corinthians, Flamengo coach Joel Santana could be heard cursing the violence of his opponents and the leniency of the referee, thanks to a microphone near the Flamengo bench.

But when asked about a challenge by Flamengo midfielder Alejandro Mancuso that dispatched Corinthians playmaker Souza to the treatment table before halftime, Santana replied: "Mancuso is macho."

Three Flamengo players were included in the list of leading perpetrators. The club's latest signing is defender Junior Baiano, who was sacked by German club Werder Bremen after receiving a 10-match ban for punching an opponent in a Bundesliga match.