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Brazil's championship needs a licence to thrill

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BBC Sport blog editor | 10:11 UK time, Monday, 19 March 2012

Before Ian Fleming made his name writing the James Bond books, he was eclipsed by older brother Peter, a derring-do adventurer of the type Michael Palin might have been born to satirise.

Peter Fleming was part of an eccentric expedition into the Brazilian jungle in the early 1930s, which he wrote about in a book best remembered for its stand out line.

"Sao Paulo," he mused, "is like Reading, only much further away" - an observation which does, of course, depend on one's starting point, but which contains an excellent piece of insight.

Fleming was kicking against the perception some had in England at the time of Sao Paulo being some Wild West outpost, "the sort of town where tanned and wary men, riding in from great distances, scatter the poultry in the rutted streets and leave their ponies outside the saloon".

The structure of domestic football in Brazil means clubs are not tapping into the potential of a passionate supporter base

Even 20 years ago, Brazilian friends in London were still being asked whether they had electricity at home, or if they saw snakes in the street.

"The truth," continues Fleming, "is very different. As you watch the straw hats bustling in and out of Woolworths you feel - with satisfaction or regret, according to your nature - that here is the South America that matters, the South America of the future. One day the whole sub-continent will be like this."

It is an excellent observation, and one extremely pertinent to the development of football in the region. Because football is the game of the city.

One of the main reasons that football caught on so quickly in this part of the world is precisely because its arrival coincided with an age of huge urban expansion.

Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay grew enormously in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Immigrants flooded in, both from rural areas and from abroad, sailing in from Europe and the Middle East. New connections were made, new ways of life adopted. Football was one of the novelties.

Introduced by the British, the game was originally restricted to the elite. It was the growth of the cities that made it possible for football to slide down the social scale so quickly, to be picked up and reinterpreted by the poor, and for this reinterpretation to lead to international triumphs and recognition for what had been seen as a remote part of the world.

But 80 years after Fleming put pen to paper, the essential truth of his observation has yet to be grasped by those running Brazilian football.

Brazil has huge clubs - based, of course, in the big cities - who can count their supporters in the tens of millions. But in the structure of the way the game is run, the clubs are not so important.

They take second place to the federations - one for each of the 27 states that comprise this giant country. And inside the federations, sheer force of numbers means that the power is with the little clubs - or those who control them.

The outcome is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, a calendar built around the needs of the minnows.

Between mid-January and mid-May, the big clubs are forced to waste their time playing in their respective state championship. They are up against clubs so small they barely deserve to be described as professional.

One game in Rio's first division drew 10 paying supporters. Crowds of under 100 are commonplace. And Flamengo are paying Ronaldinho a fortune to take part.

As well as being an exercise in futility, the state championships throw Brazil's calendar out of sync with the rest of the world. There is no time for a proper pre-season, no gap for the clubs to travel to lucrative pre-season tournaments abroad, and, World Cup year apart, no pause in the middle of the year.

So during last year's Copa America and World Youth Cup, and again during this year's Olympics, Brazil's clubs will be deprived of their best players right at the heart of the season.

Having giants play minnows on a league basis makes no sense. In a cup format, though, it is a completely different matter. A huge part of the charm of a cup competition is the possibility it provides for the little team to seize a moment of glory.

And so while I am dead against Brazil's state championships in the format currently used, I am all in favour of the Brazilian Cup, whose 2012 incarnation is just getting under way.

It is a competition whose cup runneth over with wonderful stories, with remote teams from the north having a crack at some of the big stars from the south east.

The Cup is set to be expanded next year, but as currently played it is contested on a knock-out basis by 64 clubs from all over the country.

Here, too, I would make a change. The ties take place over two legs. To my mind, a single game would be far better.

The league exists to crown the best, most consistent club. With a cup, luck of the draw is all part of the drama, and a greater chance of upsets is something to be celebrated.

I proposed this once on Brazilian TV. My colleagues seemed dumfounded, but I was able to point out that it has worked well enough in the FA Cup for over 140 years.

Cutting back to one leg also suits a country the size of Brazil. Halving the number of games creates space to double the number of participants. With 128 clubs competing on a pure knock-out basis, the chance of the occasional upset is greatly increased.

As Peter Fleming's brother might have commented, a domestic cup competition on those lines would come equipped with a licence to thrill.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag;

Q) Do you think that the abdication (I think is the best word) of Ricardo Teixeira as president of Brazil's FA can help the professionalization of their football?
Bartlomiej Rabij

A) It can't do any harm. But it's not just about Teixeira. It's hard to think of a more dim-witted public figure than Teixeira, but if someone that limited can stay in power for so long (23 years) there is clearly a support structure behind him - which in this case is mainly the presidents of the various state federations, who seem to form a useless layer of bureaucracy.

Fundamental change can only come from the clubs. Can they step up? Can they agree on a way forward for themselves and the future of the game? Brazil has reached its 1992 moment - when the English clubs broke away to form the Premier League. Can Brazil's clubs do something similar, maybe even better?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Tim,

    I was wondering what the players themselves say about the state championship? Do they view it as a worth while competition?

  • Comment number 2.

    Tim,

    Great blog as always. I take your point about the federations having too much power. However do you feel that the time is right for changes such that you are proposing given the World Cup is only two years away and the infrastructure is already way behind schedule? Surely if Teixiera and the federations have been involved in the organising of this then removing them now would cause a lot of problems at exactly the time when the world is watching nervously wondering whether Brazil 2014 is going to happen.

  • Comment number 3.

    Tim,

    I was wondering the exact same thing about a breakaway league as happened in England, but (as I was only 10 years old at the time of the formation of the EPL) I am not sure how this was done and if it is possible to do it in Brazil. Presumably, the Premier League must have got some agreement from the FA and UEFA in order to be able to award the European Cup places to teams in the Premier League. I would assume that the Brazilian FA could block this if a breakaway league is formed (in terms of Copa Libertadores places etc). Would the big Brazilian clubs be willing to take this risk? When the EPL was formed, European football was limited to very few teams (just three teams a year I think - champions, league cup winners and FA Cup winners) and the money involved in European competitions was dwarfed by the money offer to play in the EPL which came from Sky.

  • Comment number 4.

    Tim,

    Interesting blog as always. I always thought the idea of the Brazilian Cup and interesting idea. I have thought the issue with carrying out a one leg tie or multi state cup would be who would provide oversight of the whole competition? And how would they tackle the massive issue of corruption. With a one leg game, surely that opens the door for greater match fixing? Or is corruption not as large a problem it once was?

  • Comment number 5.

    I think your idea of a Brazilian FA Cup is a great idea - im surprised it was met with so much opposition. I suppose its viewed as messing with tradition. The state championship games have about as much gusto as a bowls match.

    On a very, very cynical level I do think the games provide a great opportunity for various underhanded parties to make a lot of money on predicting match results. I've gambled professionally online for 2 years now and the amount of times the minnow takes the lead in these games (thus boosting the match odds) is incredible.

    Along a similar line to your revision of the state championship, midweek I was thinking that the group stage of the Libertadores may be less predictable if they created a zonal system for the group stage to reduce the flight times for teams. The disparity between playing home and away is ridiculous - typified by group leaders The Strongest getting demolished by Internacional last week.

  • Comment number 6.

    Manelson_1 - The Premier League has no power whatsoever as to who gets the European Cup places, that's strictly UEFA's call. They are the one's who devised the coefficient and to date it's the only "fair" way to decide, although having said that I still think it's utterly ridiculous that you can finish 4th in a league campaign and compete in a "Champions" League. I much preferred the straight knock-out of the European Cup in it's purest form, bringing the prestige of the UEFA Cup and bringing the Cup Winners Cup back! This was one of the main principles of Michel Platini's candidacy as president, although I suspect he has had to deal with the political nature of sponsors and the power inwhich the top clubs hold over them but as he pointed out himself, every club should have an equal say and chance, so the champions of Georgia deserve the right to be in the Champions League proper as much as the Champions of Spain or England, that's the only way these "smaller" nations and clubs are going to be able to hang onto their players. No surprise that since the death of the old European Cup (and with the added help of the Bosman ruling of course) we've rarely seen a Red Star Belgrade or Ajax.

    Which brings me to the point I was going to make on this article about the state championships, while they may be a nuisance to the top clubs I daren't say it's worked out well for the minnows financially? These games are potentially the one's that are keeping these clubs in business afterall. As Platini remarked, everyone should be treated equally in the professional game, which is where i'd take question with the Brazilian set-up. If there was an increase in professionalisation in the sport would that not help matters? Scrap the groups and implement a straight knock-out system for a kind of regional League Cup. Implement this within a normal season alongside the League and the Brazilian cup that way if the top clubs want to disregard the competition it doesn't affect preperation for the next season and it doesn't take away the chance for Brazilian clubs, as has been the case over the years to take the opportunity to use the state championships as a breeding ground for their youngsters. This would also avoid massive fixture congestion, if you lost then you are out not handcuffed by a league system.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Tim

    Always interesting to read on the Brazilian setup! I'd be interested to know, how many clubs are there in total in the 27 states? Are there any states where it is ever more than 3 or 4 clubs that can win the Championship? How many go into the national championship? ( I could Wiki it but would be interested in your view). Also do these minnows ever produce any players of note?

    It seems staggering from a UK point of view that these state championships still exist! Althoug I accept that the people in charge mean that it won't change.

  • Comment number 8.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 9.

    Tim,
    This year the format of Copa do Brasil has changed. At least in the early rounds, if the big teams win the first game at the home ground of the small teams by at least a 2-goal difference, there is no return game. Not the one game format that you like (and I absolutely agree with) but it's a start in the right direction.

  • Comment number 10.

    Tim, I think you give the clubs and their "presidents" way too much credit. The structure in the majority of clubs is amateur in the same way as the state championships and the smaller clubs.

    The Brazilian clubs elect presidents who are no more than wanna-be politicians who use the clubs resources for their own agenda.

    Brazilian teams are hardly united, especially now that the "Clube dos Treze (13)" is defunct.

  • Comment number 11.

    #9. Luca, that system you mentioned has been used for some years now...

    For those who do not know: The structure of the game in Brazil is based on the State Federations due to the development of the game in the country... Brazil is a country of continental dimensions, the size of Europe (São Paulo, alone, is the size of Great Britain), it was not feasible to create a fully fledged national championship in the beginning of the 20th century. The main initial competitions were the State Championships, which even after the creation of of the National Championship in 71, still kept their prestige up until recently. They are historical and run deep in the hearts of supporters, so they can't be simply terminated... a solution would be to reduce them to a minor role in the national structure, by reducing their size.

  • Comment number 12.

    DonVettori: I believe that there are around 800 professional clubs in all. At least, that is the number CBF throw around when they are asked. Remember that in the Sao Paulo state championship, there are more than 100 clubs alone, split into four divisions.

    There are no major states where more than four clubs can win it. In Sao Paulo, there used to be a strong interior which challenged the capital for the title. Inter Limeira won in 1986 and Bragantino in 1990, but now only the four capital clubs have any chance of winning the title. Hoever, I believe that some smaller states, like the Mato Grosso or Mato Grosso do Sul states have more than four title contenders.

    There are 100 clubs in the national championship, but 60 of those play there independently of their state championship performance. Only in Serie D(the bottom tier) are the 40 clubs selected based on state championship performance.

    I don't think the minnows produce any players of note nowadays. However, they used to do. Ronaldo Nazario once played for Sao Cristovao which is a minnow.

  • Comment number 13.

    In Mato Grosso and Moto Gross do Sul there have been 8 different winners since the turn of the century. Obviously, in these states more than 4 clubs play for the title. However, these states are small in footballing terms, and none how their clubs are big in the national sense.

    From 1954 to 1998, only two different clubs won the Rio Grande do Sul championship, but these two are big(Gremio and Inter).

  • Comment number 14.

    The state championships exist because Brazil is a flipping gigantic country. Basically sides in the fourth division are entirely dependent on them, not only because of the financial side of things but because they offer them guaranteed matches over a few months of the season. Without them, some teams in the fourth division would only play 8 matches a season.

    The reason that the 3rd and 4th division are so small is because teams at that level can't afford the traveling costs. Hence the divisions tend to be quite compact and are often played out on a mini knockout basis.

    I think you are oversimplifying your argument here Tim. What needs to be done is that the Brazilian FA need to create some form of fluid pyramid structure in Brazilian football. Whereby the state championships are stripped of the larger teams and become solidified into separate smaller feeder leagues.

    Perhaps create a fourth division of the current 27 state championships and then have a third division separated into 5 or 6 regional divisions.

    Thoughts?

  • Comment number 15.

    #11,12 and 13 that's interesting to hear. It's understandable that state championships were created due to sheer size, but with 60 out of 100 always in the national championships there seems even less reason to have the state championships with big clubs in. The biggest clubs players must have zero motivation to play in these games too, assuming clubs put out remotely strong sides.

  • Comment number 16.

    The smaller clubs depend on home matches against the big ones to raise their revenue. In Sao Paulo, smaller clubs may have insignificant crowds when they play each other(1500 or less) but they may pull in 10-15 000 when playing at home against the big ones. Also ticket prices are higher for the big games, so the vast majority of their gate receipts come from a handful of matches against the big ones. Removing big clubs from the tournament stops that source of income for the minnows.

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 so would it be possible to remove the big clubs from the state championships but ensure the smaller clubs receive a slice of revenue from any TV money or other sources made in the national championships?

  • Comment number 18.

    I think we've had this debate a few times before and Brazil's size is no longer an excuse. You can regionalise the lower divisions like in any other country. The Copa do Brazil should obviously have smaller clubs in it. That can be done using either the state championships as the qualifiers, or by simply have preliminaries. Don't forget that virtually every country had regional competions back in the day, even in small countries, but this is the 21st century. Time to move with the times.

  • Comment number 19.

    and in regards to messing up the confederation infastructure, how can it? We are talking about club football, not the national team. even if we were, we are talking about a confederation that was unable to decide even where to play the World Cup matches until 2 years' ago, let alone find the money to fund the building for new stadiums and infastructure. These corrupt old men are destroying a league that could be as big as Spain, Germany or Englands'.

  • Comment number 20.

    Surely the whilst it's fair to say that the regional leagues were a historical invention born largely due to of the size of the country and the impracticality of creating a national league. It is now the 21st Century where travel between states is readily available and faster?

    I mean saying that the smaller clubs are dependant on the home games v the big clubs, is like saying the UK should re-instate the counties leagues so that the likes of Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood & Chorley would get income from the visits of Man Utd & Liverpool? I mean this type of league structure is hampering the progression of the Brazilian league. Surely it makes more sense to follow the European model or the Russian model (a larger country). It has a Premier division, with two lower divisions. Then it is split regionally. Is it that complex to have the National League as the upper echelon, two leagues underneath and then state championships for the smaller teams?

    Likewise the Copa Brasil can be between the league clubs and regional winners? To determine who enters into the 2nd lower division from the regions, have a playoff system for 3-4 places?

  • Comment number 21.

    20. Spot on.

  • Comment number 22.

    20. I agree........but "make more sense" has never influenced Brazilian sport planning or thinking. Look at the World Cup and the recent Texeira fiasco.

    I agree Tim about the model but like I have said in the past, moving even to a European calendar would support the quality. The libertadores is poorly organised and played initially during the State championships, and the Brazil Cup is weaker due to the Libertadores teams not participating!! International competitions as you point out also affect the quality.

    My team Santos were robbed of the best players at the Quarter Final stage of the Libertadores in 2005 (as were Guadalajara) because of Olympic qualification. And if one follows the politics closely one could even summise that some teams benefit from other teams losing players to selection.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    23. I'm sure he can, but he decides to waste his life trolling and looking for attention... Don't worry mate, I still have faith in you. x

  • Comment number 25.

    24. eh?

  • Comment number 26.

    Tim - a small point. Going from 2 games per round to 1 game per round in a knockout competition would allow double the number of rounds - (the winner playing the same number of games). This would mathematically allow something like 4,000 teams to play in the competition - e.g., in the UK c.750 teams start in round 1 of the FA Cup (14 rounds in total)

  • Comment number 27.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 28.

    27. Calm down love.

  • Comment number 29.

    #17 - obviously a good idea. However, it will never happen in Brazil as clubs are disunited. The 20 first division clubs are arguing on how to distribute TV money. Sharing the cake with hundreds of minnows would only lead to more bickering, and big clubs would never accept it.

  • Comment number 30.

    #14 - another good idea.The A and B divisions should have 20 clubs each, division three should be regionalized(like four groups of 16) and there should be a playoff to decide who will get promoted to Serie B. Division 4 should be the state championship running all year. At the end of the season there should be a playoff between teams that have done well in the state leagues to decide promotion to serie C. This way, big clubs may participate in the state leagues with their reserve teams.

    However, I don't think this will ever happen in my lifetime. A more conservative approach is this: Reduce the size of the state leagues to 15 instead of 23 matches. Reduce the size of the national championship from 20 to 16 clubs. In this way, the state championship would run from feb to may and the national championship from may to early dec. This would mean only weekend matches instead of today's fixture congestion, and far better time for training and preparations. I don't think this would happen either, because clubs would resist a reduction in the number of participants.

    I've followed brazilian football for 25 years, and this matter has been discussed all those 25 years.

  • Comment number 31.

    I am Brazilian, having spent a long while in the UK, I think the players feel the state championships are a way out for less productive years, also, its usually well looked upon by the public, the big matches that is...
    I still think the league should be set in a different way, at a different time, but that would harm clubs from upnorth, us down shouth, like São Paulo, don't have those many issues, but still, not many clubs, at leats not out of the larger 8, would have an opportunity of preparing before the league takes place, and the Brazilian premier wouldn't be as exciting, with so many clubs fighting for a title, or even a spot at the Libertadores cup.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Tim,

    I'm interested to see that my team, Oxford United, have taken 20 year old Columbian striker Cristian Montaño until the end of the season on a loan deal from West Ham. I know you are often critical of players coming to europe too early, and Cristian came to England and joined West Ham when he was only ten. Is it a case of him coming over here early enough for it not to be too soon? Like Leo Messi? Obviously he hasn't yet made it at West Ham yet, but he has had three successful loan spells (scoring in his debut on all three occasions) in the lower leagues already.

  • Comment number 33.

    I can't say that I necessarily agree with your comments Phil. There are some strong state championships, and I believe that the strength of Brazilian football comes from the fact that many a minnow gets to swim with a big fish. Santo André were one of the best teams in the Paulistão (São Paulo State Championship) the year before last, narrowly losing to Santos in the final - yet they play in the Brazilian second division, I believe.

    The big clubs do take these championships very seriously, and given the huge size of Brazil, it is unthinkable that the likes of Americana, Ponte Preta, Santo André et al, should not get their chance to play against the bigger clubs and showcase their talent.

    The games are taken very seriously by the fans and players alike. Imagine Garth Crooks suggesting on a BBC blog that the English third division was an unimportant part of English Football! he'd be sacked in a week!

    Long live the Paulistão!

  • Comment number 34.

    33. That's exactly the point. The 3rd tier of English Football is the 3rd tier, it's as important as the 3rd tier of any league system. If a 3rd tier club wish to play a 1st tier club every season, guess what? They will either have to have a good cup run every year or get promoted. Why should a 'minnow' get to play the big teams on the basis of being from the same state? It's a farce and a huge waste of time.

  • Comment number 35.

    34.At 08:24 20th Mar 2012, SlovakIron wrote:
    __________________

    I just find it bizarre that the football infrastructure is stuck backwardly in the 1900s whilst the rest of the world has well developed league structures. To say that the state championships exist because of the size of brazil is another weak argument. Even the USA has a structure in terms of leagues, why not just either follow the Russian model or the American model and reduce the number of games.

    What benefit would the likes of Sao Paulo & Santos have playing minnows? Surely they can do that during a pre-season in the form of friendlies?

    Likewise there's nothing to stop a team like Santo Andre being promoted through the leagues and playing in the National League.

  • Comment number 36.

    tim, you have the best blog on the bbc website.

    the big clubs should use the state championship to blood their next generation of players use it like barca, real madrid, valencia etc use the lower leagues to blood the next generation of players with competitive football. players like ronaldinho, adriano, wagner (exlyon striker) should have contracts for the national championships, copa libertadores and copa sudamericana. this would reduce the work load on them and the club wage bill.

  • Comment number 37.

    35. I can see what the argument is; let the little guys have their day in the sun. The problem is they have that day every single year and this isn't based on merit. So yeah, I completely agree with you. I'd say the Russian model is more competitive than the US one, but as you said, trying to work two simultaneously is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 38.

    36. Well, the catalan cup along with all the other regional competitions still exist in Spain, but just like you suggested, the big guns don't generally play in them.

  • Comment number 39.

    As italian just arrived in Brazil ( Fortaleza-Cearà) the “estaduais” didn’t make sense for me cause in Italy we haven't a competion like this.
    But stage by stage I began the estaduais in a different way.
    Every time Fortaleza or Cearà play at home they join more then 20.000 supporters at Presidente Vargas Stadium . It happens also when they play against the little Tiradentes that I discovered has just one member in its “torcida organizada”.
    So if I think that Fortaleza played the serie C last year making just six games at home so having just six good incomings in the season , I understand that the opportunity to make other 12 good incomings during the estadual championship it’s fundamental for surviving .
    And I think that’s the reality of many teams in states like :Rio Grande do Norte,Parà ,Amazonas, Pernambuco,Bahia…

  • Comment number 40.

    37.At 13:38 20th Mar 2012, SlovakIron wrote:
    _______________

    The US one makes sense when you have a large number of teams (relatively on the same level) and wish to compete annually. If you look at the way the Major League, NBA, NHL, NFL is set up, the state championships still don't make sense! It would make sense if the state champions move into "play offs" for the Brazil title. That format would then work, because predominantly the "big" teams would still make the play offs and contest the title between eachother. It's much like it is in the MLB, where the Yankees, Red Sox are perennial contenders, where as the likes of Arizona etc are small clubs.

    Or the alternative is the national league system in russia where it is the same as western formats, for Premier Division, Division 1 & Division 2, followed by regional leagues (of which from memory there are about 8).

    Clearly they need someone to look at hte system as a whole and set a strategy. I think TV revenue has a lot to do with this, in that tv channels will broadcast the state championships, then another does the national league and another does the brazil cup.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Although the state championships do not have the quality of the league or other competitions, to say they are a waste of time is a but naive. Little clubs need it for money and matches, and believe me when I say there is a lot of money in it. Saying they are played in a league format is wrong, Tim is generalising too much. A few state championships start off with a league format and then move on to a knockout one, while others remain a league format throughout, it depends on the state.

    "One game in Rio's first division drew 10 paying supporters. Crowds of under 100 are commonplace. And Flamengo are paying Ronaldinho a fortune to take part."
    The above statement is misleading. At no point are top teams obliged to field their best sides, they can go through a whole championship with a B team if they want. Also, this statement implies big teams like Flamengo draw crowds of under 100, wrong.

    "They are up against clubs so small they barely deserve to be described as professional." - Misleading. Big teams have lost or drawn against such small clubs. Neither of Rio Grande do Sul´s big clubs, Inter and Gremio, won the first round of the state championship. This means a small undeserving unprofessional club has the chance of being state champion this year.

    "As well as being an exercise in futility . . .the big clubs are forced to waste their time playing in their respective state championship." - You can argue the same about England´s League Cup. It is only worth anything if the team that wins it has no other shot at silverware. The same can be said for Brazil´s state championships. Cruzeiro did not win anything last year, they can at least bring a title home by winning their state championship. Is this really that futile and time wasting? What other shots at silverware have teams like Atletico-PR, Coritiba, Bahia or Vitoria got apart from their state championship? These are not exactly small teams either.

    "So during last year's Copa America and World Youth Cup, and again during this year's Olympics, Brazil's clubs will be deprived of their best players right at the heart of the season." - This is based on the assumption that the majority of players fielded by the national team in the above competitions play for Brazilian clubs. The majority of the national squad tend to play abroad, not really affecting the Brazilian clubs in the way Tim is putting across.

    The State Championships started off because a league was not feasible in Brazil at the time. It has continued through to today due to the money, matches and titles it provides, no matter how small. It is still ingrained in many a Brazilian football supporters´ head as a worthwhile competition, I mean ok, it ain´t great but it isn´t the worst either. This is no reason for it to cease to exist.

  • Comment number 43.

    My solution for the state championships would be to turn them into something like the league Cup - the little clubs could play against themsleves on a league basis for the right to go into a midweek cup later in the season with the big boys.

    I don't think it's naive in the slightest to consider them a waste of time as currently constituted - the penny has finally dropped with this one. Here in Rio the big clubs have woken up to the fact that they are wasting their time - what on earth is the point of paying players a fortune to take on teams that have no supporters - many of the games involving the big teams in the Rio state championship are drawing under 1500 - farcical.

  • Comment number 44.

    At no point are the big clubs in Rio obliged to play their A teams in the state championship, they could play their B teams in the state championship, of which they would still probably get results, and save their expensive A team players for the Libertadores or Copa do Brasil.

    Also, it is not just state championship games that are suffering from low attendance, matches in all competitions are suffering lower attendance compared to years ago thanks to expensive ticket prices and low earnings for the masses in Brasil. Stadiums that were full are now lacking a lot of supporters, it is not the competition´s fault if the teams charge too much and their supporters earn too little. Clubs that you see that still fill, or near enough fill, their stadiums do so because their ticket prices are lower than the average price.

 

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