RIO DE JANEIRO, Reuter: Brazilian International star Zico launched a crusade against violence in soccer on Thursday by urging the government to punish the sports’ thugs.

“I asked Education Minister Hugo Napoleao to order the National Sports Council (CND) to create a severe law against violent players,” Zico said on television.

“It simply calls for any player who seriously hits an opponent to be banned from playing until his victim is fully recovered,” added the gifted midfielder.

Zico, 35, has been fighting injury almost full time since he rejoined Flamingo in 1985 after playing three seasons in Italy.

Soon after his return, he was hurt in a wild challenge and remained out of action for six months, He saw little of the Mexico World Cup finals and underwent surgery on his left knee in late in 1986.

Two further operations followed in. 1987 and late last year but shortly after returning in February he was injured again by another reckless challenge and has not yet recovered.

“No wonder fans are abandoning the stadiums,” Zico said. “They want to see the stars but the stars are often injured while their aggressors are playing as if nothing has happened”.

Article extracted from this publication >> April 29, 1988