SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's Congress passed a fiscal responsibility law for football clubs on Monday, slightly watering down one presented by the president in March but preserving enough of the original to satisfy the country's biggest players union.
"This is undeniably a victory," Common Sense FC, a union of more than 1000 players who lobbied hard for the bill, said on Twitter after it passed the Senate.
"The approval is a goal for Brazil. We still have a long road ahead of us. But the comeback has started!"
The union said the chaotic financial state of the domestic game, where players are frequently unpaid for months, is one of the main reasons for the decline of the national side.
Brazil underwent national soul-searching and a clamour for change after the national side lost 7-1 to Germany in the World Cup semi-final last year.
Under the law, which was drafted by the president and then altered by Congress before Monday's vote, Brazil's heavily indebted clubs will be given up to 20 years to repackage their debts.
In return they must comply with a series of demands that include issuing independent financial accounts and spending a portion of their income on women's football and other sports.
The measure also gives second division teams a vote at the Brazilian Football Confederation, a move analysts said would transfer power from the state federations to the clubs.
However, the approved legislation was less stringent than the original bill, which had insisted clubs only spend 70 percent of their income on professional football, but that portion was increased to 80 percent.
It also extends the period which clubs are given to reduce their operational deficit.
Former Barcelona striker Romario, who is now a Senator, was one of only six to vote against the bill, unhappy with the changes.
But his colleague Zeze Perrella, a former president of Cruzeiro, said all sides made concessions.
"There are no favours from the government," he said.
"Today is the start of a new era in Brazilian football, principally one of responsibility."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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