The decision by a Brazilian soccer team to sign Bruno Fernandes de Souza, a goalkeeper who was convicted in the gruesome slaying of his girlfriend in 2010, has cost the team sponsors and sparked anger. But the player says it’s time to move on because “mistakes happen in life.”

The goalie, known as Bruno in Brazil, was convicted in the torture, murder and dismemberment of his girlfriend, whose body allegedly was fed to his dogs. He was sentenced to 22 years and three months in prison for the 2010 crime, but Bruno was released from jail earlier this month while appealing on a legal technicality. He was then welcomed by Boa Esporte, a second-division club.

“Dude, what happened, happened,” he said in an interview (via the Guardian). “I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happen in life. I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude.”

Several sponsors withdrew support and feminist groups protested amid growing awareness and rejection of femicide and rape in Brazil, where, to mark International Women’s Day recently, the Cruzeiro soccer team wore shirts with messages such as “a rape every 11 minutes” and “salaries 30 percent lower.”

“Women and the general public are outraged,” said Djamila Ribiero, a feminist activist (via UOL). “It is as if he had gone unpunished.”

On social media, reaction was negative. Twitter user Celio Ramirez was typical, writing: “It’s amazing that the mastermind of a murder be hired in football as soon as he gets out of jail and another fights a lifetime for a job.”

A victims group posted a petition protesting his hiring, writing of “our total disgust that a symbol of DEATH Wear a sports shirt.” It has nearly 35,000 signatures.

But Rone Moraes da Costa, the president of Boa Esporte, defended the decision, saying in a statement on the club’s official Facebook page that the law had been fulfilled and it “is not committing any crime according to the Brazilian legislation and before the law of God.” And he told the Guardian, “If this city doesn’t like it, I move us to another city. Bruno deserves this chance.”

Bruno, 32, is a former goalie for first-division Flamengo. In 2010, he was convicted of ordering the killing of Eliza Samudio, a model who was his former partner and the mother of his son. After a highly publicized lawsuit for child support, she went missing and he confessed to his involvement (via the Guardian). He allegedly conspired with six others (including his lover and ex-wife) who tortured, strangled and dismembered Samudio, then fed her body, which has never been found, to Bruno’s Rottweilers. His ex-wife was acquitted of kidnapping the child.

“This is a barbaric crime,” former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said (via the Guardian) in 2010. “The whole of Brazil is disgusted by such a barbaric and perverse crime.”

Sponsors Nutrends Nutrition, CardioCenter, and Magsul have dropped Boa Esporte and demonstrations are planned outside the club’s Melão stadium in the southeastern city of Varginha. Gois and Silva, a holding company, announced in a statement, “Given the decision to go ahead with the recruitment of Bruno, the Gois and Silva group officially announced that it is no longer a sponsor.”