SAO PAULO -- Former Brazil striker Fred warned on Thursday that he and his Fluminense teammates might not play this weekend following threatening behaviour by fans after the team's recent run of defeats.
A few dozen Fluminense fans shouted abuse at players, threw objects and hit out at their cars earlier Thursday as the team left a Rio de Janeiro airport where they had touched down following a 1-0 loss to Chapecoense, their third in a row.
Some fans called the players "mercenaries" and threw coins at them. One told Fred to "ask to leave" the club.
Authorities didn't let the players leave through the main arrival area because of the protest, but fans found the back exit being used by the squad and kicked and punched some of the players' cars as they left.
Fred, who struggled with Brazil at the World Cup, published a warning on one of his social media accounts.
- Fred - Fredgol (@fredgol9) August 21, 2014
"If nothing is done by authorities or club officials, and these cowards try to invade the [team headquarters] Laranjeiras to attack the players, as a captain I will get the group together and Fluminense will not play on Sunday against Sport. They will use their weapons and we will use ours."
In the statement, accompanied by a photo of himself and 11 other Fluminense players, the striker called the fans "vandals" and said it was "unbelievable and lamentable that in 2014, after hosting a World Cup, Brazil still has to deal with this type of barbarity."
Fluminense are fifth in the 20-team Brazilian league standings, seven points behind leader Cruzeiro, but haven't won in four matches. One of the team's three losses was a 5-2 humiliating home elimination to minnow America de Natal in the Brazilian Cup.
The 30-year-old Fred was criticised by Brazilian fans and media after a disappointing performance as Brazil's starter at the World Cup, where he only scored one goal.
His struggles continued after returning to Fluminense. After missing a penalty in the team's 2-0 loss to rival Botafogo in the Brazilian league on Sunday, fans painted "Out Fred" on a wall at the team's headquarters.
Fluminense won the Brazilian league in 2010 and 2012 but just managed to avoid relegation last year, staying in the top flight only after another club lost points for using a suspended player in the last round.