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What price Brazilian football?

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Tim Vickery | 09:34 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008

Predictably enough, the final day of the Brazilian league season came with a touch of controversy.

Sao Paulo needed a point away to Goias to win their third consecutive title and their sixth in all (both are records).

But after incidents in their stadium, Goias were obliged to stage the game a few hundred miles away in Gama, a satellite town of the capital Brasilia. With nothing riding on the game for them, Goias decided to take advantage of the importance of the occasion to their opponents. Ticket prices were pushed up twenty times the normal amount - which after political pressure was reduced to a still-exorbitant 10-fold increase.

Shortly before the match the two clubs were squabbling over the allocation of dressing-rooms and substitutes' benches, and on the eve of the game there was a switch of referees after rumours circulated that the original choice might have been got at.

Borges, Sao Paulo v Fluminense

In the event the replacement officials made a hash of the only goal of the game. Sao Paulo striker Borges was well offside when he scored.

It was just as well that the goal did not decide the destination of the title - Sao Paulo would have been champions with a draw - because the final day of the 2008 championship does not deserve to be overshadowed by negative headlines. All 10 games were scheduled to start at 5pm, and give or take a couple of minutes here or there, they started on time.

This might hardly seem newsworthy, but in fact it represents a significant advance.

The final day has often given an opportunity for unscrupulous directors to try and pull a fast one in the perceived interests of their team. Teams whose fight against relegation is dependent on other results have frequently sought to delay the kick-off. They take the field in shirts the same colour as their opponents, so they have to go back to the dressing-room and change again. Or, if the games take place at night, there might be an 'accidental' floodlight failure. So their game kicks off half an hour late, when they already know how their rivals are doing.

There were no such shenanigans this time. Perhaps the corner has been turned. Another positive to report from the final day is that Vasco da Gama were among the four teams relegated - and no one doubts that they will play in the second division next year.

Nothing against the club - the tradition of Vasco is magnificent, and Brazilian football owes them a huge debt. They were prime movers in democratising the sport. Brazilian football began as a pastime of the elite. Vasco played a huge role in breaking down the barriers when they won the 1923 Rio championship with a team that included black and poor white players. They were persecuted by the elite clubs, until they consolidated their position once and for all by clubbing together and building their Sao Januario stadium, the emotional scene of their last game of the season on Sunday.

In fact this has been coming for a while. Their most recent golden age came to an end when they were knocked out of the 2001 Copa Libertadores. Ever since they have been a low-budget team made up of a couple of aged stars, the odd promise for the future and plenty of cheap, workmanlike players.

But, with four national titles to their name, they remain a giant club. Ten years ago they would not have gone down, even if they finished in the relegation zone. Some means would have been found to save them from their own incompetence.

Some years there simply was no relegation. In others, former champions were exempt, or some excuse was found to preserve the traditional giants in the first division, such as a refereeing scandal that was used to benefit Fluminense over a decade ago.

That no longer happens - and would be considered totally unacceptable if anyone tried it on. Vasco are the latest in a recent line of big clubs to be relegated. It happened to Palmeiras and Botafogo, to Gremio and Atletico Mineiro. Last year it even happened to the mighty Corinthians, the second most popular club in the country.

All have since made it back to the top flight, in every case strengthened by the experience. The way that the Vasco fans have responded to the threat of relegation - they have been filling the stadium game after game - suggests that the same might be true of their club.

And in the meantime, the second division will benefit from their presence, as it did from having all the other big clubs.

Domestic Brazilian football continues to operate way below its potential. There are serious problems with the calendar, the existence of the dreadful state championships and the role of agents. But it is also taking some steps in the right direction, as, with a touch of controversy, the final day of the 2008 season made clear.

Please send your comments on this week's piece using the space provided below. Any other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag;

I have been aware of a player called Fernando Cavenaghi for a while now (mainly due to many hours of football management games in my youth!!)
He came from Argentinian football a few years ago joining Spartak Moscow, I think then has moved to Bordeaux for the last few seasons.
How do you rate him and how is he rated in his homeland as I think I'm right in saying that he hasn't played for the national team?
Gareth Richards

A natural goalscorer who was top scorer with River Plate in the Argentine first division at the age of 18. Perhaps not the greatest physically, and by his own admission he chased the money when he went to Russia and it didn't do his career much good. He was certainly off the radar screen for a while, but his profile is higher now he's in France and getting more playing time. He has played for Argentina - four appearances as a sub in friendlies earlier this year.
One of the most interesting things with Maradona's Argentina will be what he does with the target man situation. He'll probably go with Messi and Aguero and perhaps Tevez, with other nippy strikers also pushing for a place, but he surely needs a big forward as an option on the bench. German Denis came on against Scotland. Diego Milito is scoring in Italy. Will Higuain of Real Madrid get a chance? Can Cavenaghi score enough goals at Bordeaux to force his way into contention?

A quick question about players playing well into their 30's in top flight South American leagues:
I was wondering with the likes of Edmundo, Calderon, Veron and Salas performing in their respective countries and also Romario only recently retired, is this a new trend? Also do you think more and more South American players will play in their native leagues in their mid 30's after careers in the European leagues?
Steve Bruce

Unless there's a rethink we've now seen the end of Edmundo and Salas, who have retired with the end of their respective seasons.
It's very common for South American players, when they leave for Europe, to announce their intention of coming back to round off their career with their home town club. Many say it, by no means all do it. Veron is a special case. He could have stayed on in Europe - the gates had not closed to him - but he chose to come back for emotional reasons, because he feels a real bond with Estudiantes.
It might well be the case that these days its easier for the top class players to play on until later in the South American leagues. Not only has physical preparation improved, but the domestic level has also fallen because of the exodus of talent to Europe, so a bit of experience and quality can stand out.
But there is a downside. Take the example of Brazil's Ze Roberto, who travelled back to Brazil to join Santos after the last World Cup. His family had been brought up in Europe, and found it very hard to adapt to the social violence of contemporary South America. So after a year he moved back to Bayern Munich.


  • Comment number 1.

    What do you know about Rafael Carioca? i heard he's supposed to be the next Lucas

  • Comment number 2.

    Another good blog Tim! Interesting to note that Steve Bruce is asking the BBC for scouting advice - he already has a couple of good South Americans which begs the question: "did you recommend them, Tim?"

  • Comment number 3.

    Interesting piece as always, Tim; the BBC should give you your own show.

    It's hard to judge the sordid antics of Brazilian football (and elsewhere in South America) as a European used to relatively stable administration, but I was wondering to what extent CONMEBOL ever get involved in things in the way that UEFA does in Europe.

    Judging from the patently silly Copa Sudamericana I doubt it, but would you say there was a great need for better top-down administration in the region?

  • Comment number 4.

    What do you know about Rafael Carioca? i heard he's supposed to be the next Lucas


    You say this like it's a good thing?!

    Great blog anyway Tim. Sorry if this has already been done over but; Rafinha of Schalke. He had an excellent Olympics, and he seems an excellent player to me. Loves driving into the box. BIT of a dirty side perhaps.

    Liverpool have been linked with him, in their everlasting search for decent full-backs. Do you think he would cope with the premiership?

  • Comment number 5.

    Fantastic stuff Tim, particularly interested by the comment on ze roberto.

    Glad you brought the questions back! keep it up

  • Comment number 6.

    Superb blog. i enjoy reading about South American football and its complexities, but have always been slightly baffled by The State Championships in Brazil. how does this differ from the normal league season? are there any other examples of different leagues using unusual methods? i know the Argentinian league is split into two halves but thats about it.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good Work again Tim Lad?!

    really interesting to find that its not only the italians who like to dabble in a lil bit of match fixing and scandal?! haha

    cant believe though that the lenghts they would go to, like you pointed out, finding some way not to get them relegated and stay in the top flight?! that is just an absolute disgrace?!

    Did the Fans really stand for this as the norm then Tim????

    because im certain that nowhere in europe would allow such a thing to go on?! i mean even the corrupt west ham dealings didnt allow them to go down, whether they should or shouldnt is up for others to debate, instead of sheff utd, it was just that it was seen as "well they are the final positions and thats that", "they had a whole 38 games to get out of it"?! (these are just hypothetical theories dont think im trying to provoke anything here with either WHU or SU)

    oh ah Mr Vickery seems to be the unofficial scout for any team wanting a south american player?! hahaha
    make sure they pay you well Tim?!
    or alternatively............
    u wants to get urself on the footie manager payroll by recommending up and coming players?! haha

  • Comment number 8.


    Good stuff as always and alot easier to interact than waiting for Up all night!!

    It still drives me mad that we don't ever see enough South americans in the UK. Do you think the UK will ever change it's entry conditions??

    Obviously Spain and Portugal are first steps for South Americans but even leagues in Eastern Europe, especially Russia, germany, Italy seem to have loads of them!

    I have to say finally, that I once was a big fan of south American footie but the games very rarely flow because games are just littered with fouls, referees feel unable to apply advantage for fear of mistakes.....I thought at one stage the leagues would just go bust.....

  • Comment number 9.

    I watched the game yesterday and the most exciting thing was the torrential rain. Goias who played so well in Rio last week to come from 3-0 down to win 3-3, were terrible yesterday. Perhaps being away from home with more SanPaulinhos in the ground, didn't help, but they rarely attacked and only seemed content to defend after the terrible decision of a goal. I would love to see the stats from the game as they gave the ball away so much.
    That is twice now Sao Paulo have benefitted by the home teams necessity to move grounds. Against the wonderful Athletico Paranense in the 2005 Libertadores final, Paranense were forced to play in Port Alegre, because their ground one of the best in the league was deemed too small. Sao Paulo had as many fans in the ground and won confortably.
    I agree they have come a long way in relegating the big teams but still have a way to go. I want to see the Libertadores played as a final (one game) in a nuetral venue as it is in Europe. The Sul Americana played at the same time, instead of the second half of the season, and the Brazilian Cup contain all the best teams instead of missing the top 5 as is currently the practice.

  • Comment number 10.

    Is that THE Steve Bruce?Anyways the Club World Cup is almost upon us.Conventional wisdom dictates it would be LSD Quito v Manchester United in the final.How do you think the South American reps will fare?

  • Comment number 11.

    What dou you think about the Argentine tournament at the moment?? Its never been such a close call who do you think will win? Im going for Boca considering Im a Xeneize since I was born!

  • Comment number 12.

    LDU Quito!

  • Comment number 13.

    What do you make of the Argentine title race Tim? Boca, San Lorenzo, Tigre (all 36 points) and mathematically Lanus (34 points) can still win the championship with one game to go. San Lorenzo have an advantage on goal difference, +16 compared to +11 for Boca and Tigre and +10 for Lanus. Boca are at home to Newell´s and Tigre are at home to Banfield, while San Lorenzo travel to Argentinos Juniors and Lanus are at home to San Martín de Tucumán.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Tim, you seem to have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the South American game.

    Serious question, do you also scout for any British sides?

    Do any managers contact you or your peers for information on South American based players?

  • Comment number 15.

    No, I don't do any scouting - I have on a very few occasions been asked for my opinion by agents and managers.

    Clubs certainly shouldn't base any buying decisions on what the likes of me have to say (and not just because I thought Rafael Scheidt would do well at Celtic and Kleberson would be a success at Man U - there's been the odd one I've called right along with the misfires!)

    A club scout needs to be looking at the player through the eyes of the club - how would he fit in under our conditions?etc.

    What I'm doing is different - I'm trying to analyse the players and the game inside its local cultural context - and it's exactly that need for curiosity - the never-ending quest to understand the context - that makes this such an enjoyable way to make a living.

  • Comment number 16.

    Does anyone know if the world club champioships will be on any UK chanels? Trying to find information on it on the bbc, Sky or Setanta is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    By the way great blog Tim.

  • Comment number 17.

    Reading your articles are always interesting and enjoyable.
    The situation with Vasco appears to be repeating itself with River in Argentina. How the heck has River managed to get into such a position?
    I am aware alot of the other smaller BAs teams have been doing better consistently in the last few years, but this is like one of the old firm getting relegated.

  • Comment number 18.

    hi tim what about a young player called martin galvan have you heard of him ive just heard his a huge prospect and mexico seem to be bringing through great attacking players at the moment in,Guardado,Dos Santos,Vela although the latter 2 have a lot to prove they certainly have an awful lot of potential.

  • Comment number 19.

    Hey Tim, great blog as usual

    How does the Argentine league work? There are two seperate leagues, the "Clausura" and the "Apertura". How do they decide who wins the league, who is relegated and who qualifies for the Copa Libertadores?

    And what happened to Luciano Fugueroa and Radamal Falcao? They were both supposed to be great strikers and haven't heard much of them since 2002 and 2007 respectively.


  • Comment number 20.

    Once again you take a shot at the various State Championships in Brazil. These State championships provide much needed revenue and interest for the small clubs in the smaller towns and cities. These State Championships are their Carling Cup of FA Cup where the small clubs have an opportunity in the spot light. Semi-professional players might generate some interest of bigger clubs. Brazil is a very large country and it can't support several lower divisions like you can in England or other parts of Europe because of the travel cost.

    If the big clubs were smart, they'd use developmental players and use these State Championships as training. However, their lust and greed for at least one piece silverware forces them to go all-out to win.

    I don't understand why you are so against these State Championships?

  • Comment number 21.

    Ze Roberto has been in talks about a move to FC Dallas of Major League Soccer. Any news on that?

  • Comment number 22.


    You paint a corrupt and rather chaotic picture of Brazilian football. How do the top players emerge from the system - are they spotted and fast-tracked ? What's the standard of coaching like ? And if Brazilian football operates "way below its potential" is this going to impact on the national team in years to come ?

  • Comment number 23.

    Great article Tim (as always).

    It seems amazing that no club in Brazil has won more than six league titles.

  • Comment number 24.

    Jack. This happens because the first Brazilian Championship took place only in 1971.

    Before that there were other competitions, following cup formats, others were only regional competitions, with clubs from both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (the two biggest cities here) and the first competition that included clubs was the 1971 Campeonato Brasileiro.

    And also because state championships were highly valued by the clubs and supporters until very recently.

  • Comment number 25.

    it's not so surprising that no Brazilian club has more than 6 titles - the national championship has only been going since 1971, and there are plenty of big clubs to share the titles round.

    The fact that Brazilian football operates way below its potential doesn't necessarily have an affect on the national team - but it does hasten the sale overseas of its best players.

    The state championships - this is a big debate, and I'm aware that conservatives and traditionalists like the things. Why am I so against them? I think they're OK for lower level football - and they could have a role for womens football as it establishes itself in Brazil.
    But at the elite level it's a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. This is professional football - there is no way that big clubs should waste their time playing against clubs so small they barely exist (no supporters and no players - the squads are on loan or placed there by agents). Giant clubs against tiny little clubs in a cup format - OK. In a league system it is a nonsense.

    Who holds the balance of power in choosing the president of the Brazilian FA(CBF)? - the state federations. So one props up the other. The state feds are not going to vote for someone who takes their championship away, so they keep their feifdoms while R Teixeira is CBF President for ever.

    From the point of view of the big clubs, playing these competitions makes no footballing sense and no economic sense - it increases the financial problems and increases the necessity to sell players - this is no co-incidence. Many in Brazilian football now have a vested interest in the selling of players. They want the domestic game to fail economically in order to line their own pockets.

    The state championships prevent progress, as well as throwing the Brazilian calendar out of sync with the rest of the world.

    If the major clubs had the stomach they would break away and form their own league.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nice article Tim...well written, and painfully truthful! i think you've said this before, but i assume that vasco's relegation is a good thing. its an opportunity to re-arrange things and come back stronger. i think corinthians have done that admirably, even buying morais in the process...i could imagine other talents leaving teir under-performing clubs for an established giant that is coming up. 1 year of less pressure, slightly easier opponents and a lot of time to set affairs straight.

    now for the question: how well do you think corinthians will do on heir reurn to the brasileirao? with quality players such as lulinha (who i see promise in), the ever-lovable dentinho, herreira, morais and felipe...are they capable of at least challenging for a copa libertadores spot?

  • Comment number 27.

    Good article, Tim, and I fully agree with your positions on State Championships. But there's something else that should be added: clubs are also interested in it because it allows 27 clubs to celebrate a trophy in the year, and it also helps to hide what the true expectations for the club in the Brazilian League.

    My Flamengo is best example of it: 6 State Champs in the last 10 years, but no League title. In two of the years we won, we barely escaped relegation. And even in the days of Zico, Junior, etc, we never won a League and a State Championship in the same year.

    Also, no club has won both in the same year since 2003, when Cruzeiro won every single national trophy, including the Cup in that.

    As for players and managers, they like the State Championships because they can put on their resume another trophy.

    "If the major clubs had the stomach they would break away and form their own league."

    Well, actually they did in 1987, before the British clubs did it, but, to make a very long and boring story short, CBF ended up aborting the project.

  • Comment number 28.

    thats a very good read on the state of football in brazil. atleast its not stagnant and is moving forward. i used to poach players from the athletico paranese on champ manager for years.

    anyway, i was wondering what you now of a certain argentinian in leeds utd colours, im a leeds fan and have been impressed with him at our level, i think he is better than league 1. he was a youngster at barcelona, so he was obviously talented, what happened to him, what went wrong with him to end up in merida?

  • Comment number 29.

    The prize Money has gone up for next year’s Campeonato Paulista (São Paulo state championship) – it’s now half a million quid for the winner – plus the big four (São Paulo, Corinthians, Santos and Palmeiras) get to share around 2 million pounds of TV money. (chicken feed by EPL standards but a much-needed source of income for many Brazilian clubs)

    However, the state competitions are way too long. The Paulista is 19 games in a league format followed by the top four going into a knockout phase. The Brasileiro is 38 rounds. So, many clubs are playing a championship and a half per year plus a possible involvement in the Copa do Brasil, Libertadores or the Copa Sul-Americana.

    Next year, the state comps kick off on January 21st and the season won’t end until early December with the last round of the Brasileiro. Many matches are watched by pitifully low crowds (though showing the games live on TV doesn’t help). A proper break in the footballing calendar in Brazil might help restore the desire to watch live football and that means the state tournaments need trimming.

    It’s true that the state championships act as shop windows for players trying to make a name for themselves and many are picked up but the bigger teams in time for the Brasileiro. Certainly, the states are more important for the smaller sides as a good finish could earn them a place in the Copa do Brasil. But a way of bringing in the big boys at a later stage of the competitions (as in the FA cup) might be a way of keeping the tournaments, helping the minnows and easing the playing schedule of the likes of São Paulo, Cruzeiro, and Flamengo.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sao Paulo is the only state with sufficient strength in depth to have a state championship that doesn't waste the time of the big clubs.

    It's the exception rather than the case to be used as an example that these competitions are worthwhile.

  • Comment number 31.

    Post 29 brings up a valid problem - the excess of football in Brazil, but then doesn't take it to its logical conclusion.

    The last day of the Brazilian championship is exciting - but the first day should be even better. The big kick off is when everyone thinks their team will do OK, all the fans are desperate to see the new signings in action, kids who've been promoted to the first team squad, and so on. All around the world the first day is THE day of football, the league starts hot and this momentum carries the competition through the next few months.

    But in Brazil the first day is a huge damp squib. Why? Because there has been no pause beforehand, no time for the magic of fandom to grow and create hope for the coming campaign.

    The Brazilian championship starts the week after the state tournaments have finished.

    For the national championship to start hot there must be a pause before the big kick off. Trimming the state championships does not give this pause. Scrap them altogether!

  • Comment number 32.

    Oh, Tim, and there are two details you haven't mentioned:

    "Ticket prices were pushed up twenty times the normal amount - which after political pressure was reduced to a still-exorbitant 10-fold increase."

    Brazil played against Portugal in the same stadium 20 days earlier, and the tickets were over twice more expensive than the Goias vs São Paulo game ones.


    "But after incidents in their stadium, Goias were obliged to stage the game a few hundred miles away in Gama, a satellite town of the capital Brasilia."

    Brasilia is the city outside SP state with the most São Paulo supporters. What CBF did was really give São Paulo a chance of playing another game at home.

    Also, about your later post:

    "The Brazilian championship starts the week after the state tournaments have finished."

    Which also happens during the quarter finals of both the Brazilian Cup and the Libertadores, with the clubs still challenging focusing on this competitions, and often beginning with reserve or even youth sides.

  • Comment number 33.

    With such great young talent being produced in Brazil why do you think that the Brazilian league cannot satisfy their players? Is it purely economical distress? Also I was wondering, how does the pay for the players in the Brazilian league compare to players in European leagues? Have Brazilian youth always looked toward europe to further their footballing careers or is this a newer occurrence with the rapid diminishing of the nation domestic league?

  • Comment number 34.

    The Argentina league reaches a climax next weekend and its a three horse race with Tigre San Lorenzo and my beloved Boca Juniors all on the same points.River Plate who won the Clausra last season are bottom after losing 2-1 to Gody another dismal performance having lost their coach last month Diego Simones.
    For the first time in years an Argentinan club side don't hold the Copa Libertores or Copa Sudamericano.Last Wednesday Brazilian side Internactional won Suderamericano in what wil be there centenarian year 2009 having won every international title there is.
    From 11-21st December a new name will represent South America in World Club Championship in Japan LDU Quito.A compratively small country of Equador but who can still boast to have all time Copa Liberatores goal scorer Alberto Spencer who had Jamaican hertitage. Who Tim says will nerver be surpassed as all ggod players are whisked off to Europe at an ever young age. Do not often agree with FIFA president Blatter but he is right when he says top European sides poach African and S.American young players to the detrement of their leagues back home.Can't help feeling another year or two on home turf they develop better as player and young adult.
    As usual Tim another excellent article on S.American football.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am just sorry for your comments. It is really amazing this tendency in despising things that happen here in South America. In comparison to your country's age, the Hillsborough disaster is not that old. Why didn't England get more "civilized" earlier?

  • Comment number 36.

    Tim, having lived in Brazil for so long now, do you have a favourite Brazilian team?

  • Comment number 37.

    Refreshing to discuss South American Football. Good post

    From :

  • Comment number 38.

    Hey, I would just like to ask a few questions about Brazilian stars of the future.

    How is Marcelo doing at Real, as I heard he was regarded as the "new Roberto Carlos" (attacking left back).

    Also, the 17 year old attacking midfielder Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior, Oscar for short, who I believe plays for São Paulo. What do you make of him? Has he really had much time on the pitch at such a young age for one to judge his prowess?

    Are there any stars of the future that we aren't so aware of up here.

    I seem to remember Kerlon being labeled the next Ronaldo (Luis Nazário de Lima), but I haven't heard much of him lately. (other than his famous seal dribble).

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Tim,

    Apologies, but I tend to disagree with all the princesses in here that speaks so well about you.
    How much do you know about Brazilian football? Well, excluding the facts, not much.
    Let's start with pricing? You can go to Brazilian championship games any time during the season for as little as £5 pounds. And if you know Brazil you know that £5 pounds is cheap even there. However, have you been to a premiership game lately? How much is that?
    Predictable that Sao Paulo won again? Well, who do you think will win the premiership this season? I have 4 guesses, because only 4 teams have ever won.
    Brazil has created a tough championship system where even top teams gets relegated. The second division is exciting as the main tournament. Sao Paulo has been the best team so far, but won't last…3 years ago Corinthians dominated the Campeonato Brasileiro and now is coming back from the second division. While Ipatinga was fighting for the title 4 years ago, a team made of players on loan because they can't afford to buy any.
    I must agree that the tournament is not so well organised as its in England and some silly mistakes are done. However it’s a tournament for Brasileiros played by Brasileiros.
    To finalise, the corruption bit - Well, corruption is everywhere my friend, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, everywhere. Although I think they are still naïve next to some big rich guys that can use the sport to create money laundry as they do in the premiership.


  • Comment number 40.

    Post 39 - I don't really understand the substance of your complaint - are you actually disagreeing with something I wrote, or are you just annoyed that a foreigner is writing about your football?

    You say that your tournament is "for brasileiros played by brasileiros." And only brasileiros can comment on it?

    Sure sounds like fascism to me

  • Comment number 41.

    Post 40 - fascism is a strong word Tim, even for a journalist

    I've been reading your column for sometime now, and today I had to say something.
    Your column is not constructive at all. You complain about South American football as if our economic differences had something to do with it.
    You tend to add good points about the sport over there, but in the end the negative message is always the same.
    You talk about South American football as if you're some kind of expert from the expert's land. Well Tim I have news for you, if your football is so superior and you know so much about it, why don't you explain to your readers why England can't win another word cup?


  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Tim,
    unlike Max_Vinicius I did understand the points you are making and it sounds to me that he can't accept the faults withing the Brazilian league. I am English and I can accept that the Premier League has become somewhat annoying in that there are 4, and if you discount Liverpool and Arsenal probably really only 2, teams challenging for the title each year.

    I think I missed the part where tim said that all Brazilian games are expensive and stumbled upon the bit where he told us that the one game raised its prices - so I'm not sure which article Max_Vinicius was reading.

  • Comment number 43.

    Deeply depressing to see SP win again, if only because I was praying for a bit of variety, and because I deeply resent seeing a team that struggles to attract 20,000 fans for most games celebrating in front of a packed Morumbi as though it was the most natural thing in the world - can there be a more fickle bunch of fans in world football than SP?

    Post 39 - Tim wasn't complaining about ticket prices in general, which are spectacularly cheap by European standards, but ticket prices at the Goias game. R$400! And this from the directors, not the touts (or are they the same thing?). And having lived in Brazil for a few years now, I can tell you his understanding of the game here is a hell of a lot deeper than that of many, many Brazilians.

    Let's have another argument about the state championships Tim - fact is that while they might not be conducive to breeding excellence amongst the big teams - PEOPLE LOVE THEM! Every Palmeiras, SP, Corinthians game in the interior is played in front of packed houses, and the same is true in Rio, Rio Grande Do Sul and Minas. Very much a supporter friendly concept, if you ask me. The real villain of the piece is the Copa Do Brasil - its over by May or June, the winners can coast the rest of the season knowing they've already qualified for the Libertadores, and what could be something that keeps hope alive for a lot of teams in the second half of the season is wasted.

    Here's a question for you Tim - why do so many big Brazilian clubs rest their entire first team for league games when preparing for Libertadores matches? I know the distances are great, but it seems odd, and opposite to European thinking, where teams rotate their squads and rest a few players but rarely play an entire reserve team for key league games. For me this strategy completely did for Fluminenses's season (they were bottom for a couple of months) and cost Gaucho his job, as well as having a disruptive influence on a number of other teams.

  • Comment number 44.

    I find this nationalism thing deeply depressing.

    Just because I am English does not make me a spokesman for English football. Hillsborough, money laundering in the Premiership, the fact that so few teams can win the Premiership, the fact that England have only won World Cup - sorry, nothing to do with me.

    I'm only a spokesman for myself. I've been based in South America, and I've put enough time into this activity to have the right to an opinion. But that's all it is - my opinion. Behind it there is no great first world plot to belittle South American football.

  • Comment number 45.

    Bruiser_at_the_back, you're right, I'd love to see this column turned into a TV series!

  • Comment number 46.

    or something on the lines of the la liga series with clips of future stars and some games

  • Comment number 47.

    Hi Tim, keep up the good work.

    Your blog is a balanced commentary on South American football evidently viewed from the eyes of a person that clearly wants to see it succeed on a global scale.

    It is a shame that people cannot receive even the slightest criticism constructively but considering that it is clearly your intention to enlighten us Brits to the merits of Brazilian (et al) football, I fear that it may just be a case of not being able to see the woods for the trees.

    Kind Regards,


  • Comment number 48.

    Tim, I share your depression in this issue. I particularly enjoy your columns (and most of the comments) cause they show the european view of our football. Like what Samwell2804 wrote in comment 7., about relegation.

    Galoucura, the Brasileirao is a football competition, not a fan contest. Sao Paulo played the best football (or even the less worst, if you like) and won it. Fair and square. I think that this is the most sensitive approach to the situation of our stadiuns nationwide (not that the Sao Paulo crowd are doing this on purpose). We are the consumers of the football product and yet, we are treated worse than cattle. I´m baffled by the so called 'faithfullness' of some fans, such as Corinthians, Flamengo, Atletico-MG. If I don´t get what I think my money´s worth in the show, the services, confort and security, I won´t return. And since services, confort and security are always the same poor standard, it has to be a great show to make me the way, Tim, I don´t mean to intrude, but why don´t you write something about the situation of the stands on the stadiuns in Brazil? I´d love to see the reaction of your european commentators.

    About the state championships, I think that they are very useful, yet very oversized. They are the only solution for the smaller clubs, who are the foundation of the brazilian 'breeding' process, but they get in the way of the bigger teams. I think that the ideal formula would make the clubs that are not in the first 3 national divisions play an year long state championship, that would promote the first 3 or 4 to the Serie D, while the others playing on one of the series A, B and C would play a short cup, as a closure to the training period.

  • Comment number 49.

    In response to Post 39

    Although questions are always valid I think accusing Tim of knowing nothing about Brazilian football except the facts is uneccesary. I would reccomend the World Football podcast that clearly allows you to hear his enthusiasm for the game in Brazil. To my mind any negative conclusions he has tend to come across as hopes for a brighter future for football in SA.


    I was wondering if fans/media in Brazil are disappointed with SP winning the championship again this year (obviously not the SP fans!), especially after such a close run in.

  • Comment number 50.


    another great article!! I am a fan of football management games I've been playing them for years. On a recent version of a popular football management game I stumbled across a couple of young brazillian players of which I wanted your opinion on:

    Marquinhos from Palmerias ( this kid looks fantastic almost robinho esq)

    Hernanes from Sao Paulo

    Douglas Costa (I have heard alot about this kid many have said he is the new ronaldinho) from Gremio

    Alex Texeira from Santos

    Rafael Carioca from Gremio

    Also this is a bit of an odd one, a few years ago I saw a video online of a kid called Juan Carlos Chera who must be around 14yrs old now, from the video he look like an immense prospect and became a bit of a phenomonon (well amongst my mates anyway) I wondered if you were familiar with him and if he ended up in any of the academies of Brazil's clubs.

    There was also another young prospect from Chilie Nicholas Milian from Colo Colo, has he broken into the first team and what is he like?

    Thanks in advance,


  • Comment number 51.

    Post 44 - Tim,
    This isn't personal, ok? Let me explain something to you.
    You have been based in South America to work with what we believe is the best football on earth.
    When you write an article you add some great punch lines about our football, but you always finalise it with a poor description to "what we believe is the best football on earth".
    You have to be open to critics mate. Specially when you say something like "Domestic Brazilian football continues to operate way below its potential." And I'm reading the Brazilian paper and its describing the same football as top class.
    Let me walk into a West Ham pub and tell them what is my opinion about their football. I don't think it will go down very well.

    If you find this nationalism, well then...

    About my first comment - Ticket prices rise in every final sometimes to extreme rates, but happens. How much is a ticket for a champions league final?


  • Comment number 52.

    48 has a valid point about the shoddiness of most of the stadiums here in Brazil and about the poor way the fans are treated. And he’s right to expect better facilities and better services. But I think he gave some insight to attitudes towards supporting teams in Brazil when he said he was ‘baffled by the so-called faithfulness of some fans’. With the odd exception (Corinthians, Atlético Mineiro, Santa Cruz - just dropped into the newly formed fourth division but were still getting good gates), Brazilians simply won’t turn up if their team is doing badly. It’s a different mentality here. People like to be associated with success. Or to use a phrase I’ve heard from a number of BRAZILIANS (including journalists at Lance – one of the leading footy papers in Brazil): Brazilians don’t like sport, they like winners. Unlike us Brits who seem to take a perverse pleasure in being associated with losers – Forest are currently in the bottom three of the Championship but I’d go to see them (if I could) even if they were playing in a shack in the Conference league.

  • Comment number 53.

    My mates in Argentina continuaosly complain about the low standard of football in the Primera. I watch a lot of games and am impressed that the clubs can maintain such a decent standard of football despite having up to 50 of the leagues best players pillaged by European and North American clubs every transfer window. There are over 1,000 Argentines playing professionally outside Argentina (most of them in top divisions), plus another 500 odd in the Primera that's a huge wealth of talent compared to the number of English players playing top flight football.

    It amazes me that so many mid-ranking European clubs from countries like Romania, Russia, Cyprus, Switzerland, Greece etc have the financial clout to lure players away from their homeland, the atmosphere of the games, the national exposure that gives a (slim) chance of playing for the national team and the chance to play in the Copa Libertadores. I can understand the lure of playing for Benfica, Real Betis, Ajax, Napoli etc but why join the minnows that are not even involved in European competitions? Surely a few more years in the Primera would be a better long term strategy for a young player.

    The climax of the Apertura could be the most exciting ever. I hope 3 or 4 teams finish on the same points, the playoff between Boca and Estudiantes in 2006 was brilliant, correct me if I'm wrong, there will be mini leage to decide the championship if 3+ teams finish level (as goal difference is irrelevant in deciding first place). I cant find any confirmation of the rules covering this unlikely (never happened before) circumstance.

  • Comment number 54.

    Max_Vinicius, you seem to be missing the point abit.

    When Tim says something slightly negative about Brazilian football you come back with something negative about English football, to try and offend Tim. This isn't going to work because, as he has said, he has no major loyalty towards English football and infact I would suspect has more loyalty towards Brazilian football having lived out there for the best part of 15 years.

  • Comment number 55.

    corinthians have just signed Ronaldo

  • Comment number 56.

    pitacodogringo - well i suppose one thing that everyone can agree on is that brazilian football is never boring - two days after the championship finishes and ronaldo comes to corinthians.....and only a month until the Pernambucano starts (ha ha sorry Tim)

    (ps hello Jon - and how nice to see Santa Cruz mentioned!)

  • Comment number 57.

    Pitacodogringo, it seems that that's the brazilian way of think. It's amplified if you analyze the comments on the olympics results. We had a lot of best performances ever and all you could hear was complaints about the guys who won the world cups but failed in Beijing. But it is not what I do and what I suggest the football fan in Brazil should do. My point is that going to a stadium to see a game today is something unpleasant and expensive (even if the tickets are cheap, you have to pay almost twice the tickets price for a PUBLIC parking space), unlike the games of Forest you used as example. If our stadiuns were as good, I'd be watching even Juventus x XV Piracicaba! So, unless we have a good reason to go through these troubles (like a good team or a chance to win a title), it is not worth it. I rather see the game on TV.

    It seems that a few clubs are moving themselves to improve the standard of the facilities (Internacional just earned an ISO 9002), but the Sao Paulo board still ignores it.

  • Comment number 58.

    HI TIM,




  • Comment number 59.

    Hi Lads.

    I had the joy of going to a match at the Maracana back in around 2000 or so. I saw Romario score the winner for Fluminese ("naayzay, naayzay") in the last minute v Corinthians. It cost about 4 pound to get in, the stadium was less than half full, I was so far back from the touchline I could barely make out the teams......but it was awesome, just awesome to be there !

    Looking forward to going back again some time, enjoying the footy and sipping more caipirinha or, better still, fresh coconut milk along the copacabana !!

    Thanks Lads. You bring it all back.

    (by the way, Tim - whatever happened to Rafael Scheidt? - shame it didn't work for him - 5M Celtic paid for the lad)

  • Comment number 60.

    max_vinicius must either be doing this for a laugh or takes things waaay too personally. whichever way you cut it that makes him a very sad person!

    great work tim, i love your blog and it's always the first thing i look for on the bbc football page, even ahead of the gossip column (aka the bible!)

  • Comment number 61.

    "can there be a more fickle bunch of fans in world football than SP?"

    They had an average of 13000 until the first game in which they become the leaders, against Internacional. And from that game on, over 50000 people every game. In general, SP fans only go to the game when the team is winning, otherwise for the most part they'll sit it out.

    Though, to be fair, the attendances would be higher if Morumbi's poor access conditions- it's very isolated from the rest of the city and doesn't have any subway stations close by- were solved.

    And about Brazilians not liking sport, only winners, the phrase doesn't really apply to football for the most part, and it wasn't coined for it; rather, it applies to every single other sport. The best example is tennis, which became absurdly popular when Gustavo Kuerten was one of the best players on the world, but lost most of it's popularity after.

  • Comment number 62.

    São Paulo president, Juvenal Juvêncio, has said there is a possibility that the club will use the 2009 Paulista to give the reserves a run out and as preparation for the Libertadores, which will be São Paulo's priority next year. this makes sense but i hope the Morumbi club's approach doesn't ruin a tournament that now has (or rather should have if he can keep away from the pies) Ronaldo

  • Comment number 63.

    Pitacodogringo, Sao Paulo's approach to the Paulista makes Ronaldo third comeback easier and more likely. With SP and Palmeiras fighting for Libertadores and Santos trying to rebuild its team, the way is open for Corinthians to win the title. Even more if you consider that Série B ended a few weeks earlier than Serie A and Corinthians will be a few weeks more prepared than his rivals. And a title would ease the pressure from the crowd both on the team and on Ronaldo, giving him more time to regain his strenght.

    As a Sao Paulo fan, I'm pleased that the board finally reached this conclusion. The Paulista is a great tournament to test the potential of our young guns. I'd love to see Sergio Motta maturing to be the midfielder we so desperately need, as well as Oscar, Bruno Formigoni and others.

  • Comment number 64.

    On reflection, it may not be a bad thing if São Paulo put out a team of youngsters and reserves. I covered the away match at Atlético Paranaense this year and São Paulo’s ‘B’ team played some exhilarating stuff and still came away with a creditable 1-1 draw. It was certainly much more enjoyable than the usual (though admittedly effective) deadly dull football served up by the regular first team. I’m a big fan of Sérgio Mota (as well as Aislan, Wellington, and Alex Cazumba) and he should have got a lot more playing time this season but with Ramalho that was never going to happen

  • Comment number 65.


    It's nice to see a little bit of the glorious history of the mighty Vasco da Gama in an english media.

    Everybody all over the world should know the beautiful story of social revolution Vasco operated in brazilian football and, in a way, in the world football. Everybody should know the Vasco fans, always concentrated in middle class and poor zones all over Rio de Janeiro. Usually humble people descendant of portuguese imigrants, african slaves or northeast of Brazil migrants, working in the small comerce or in public jobs.

    Everybody should know the history of São Januário, a stadium built with the own resources and the own hands of the Vasco players and fans, in a struggle against prejudice and social/racial discrimination. A stadium that was the bigest of latin America from 1927 till 1950 and that was the scene for historic speeches of Getulio Vargas, the most significant president of Brasil.

    Everybody should know the historic team of the 40's, composed only by black and poor people, certainly the best brazilian team of the first half of the last century, champion of south america and base of the brazilian squad.

    Everybody must know players like Edmundo, Juninho Pernambucano, Romário, Bebeto... And should know that all these players became famous in Vasco da Gama.

    Everybody should also see the America championship of 98, or the matches against Real Madrid (98) and Manchester United (2000), in the Fifa world championships, when Vasco showed the best football of these years. Or only look for Edmundo skills in the 97 brazilian championship, when Brazil met a monster player with a monster heart. Or look at the historic final of 2000 South American Championship against Palmeiras, when we were loosing away 3-0, had one player expeled, and made 3-4 with brilliant actuations of Romario and both Juninhos (Lyon and Middlesbrough).

    If anybody come to Brasil, if anybody come to Rio de Janeiro, try to know more about this giant of the world football.

    We will handle this situation. Congratulations for the blog.


  • Comment number 66.

    This spray paint idea is so simple but effective ref sprays it on grass the wall has to stay behind it.Free kick taken and white line disappears what are you waitng for FA give it a trial in League 2 Excelllent idea Argentinan FA

  • Comment number 67.

    Shotgooner, this spray idea was developed in Brazil and its been used for about 4 or 5 years around here!

  • Comment number 68.

    So are we all sitting comfortably for Sunday? Would love to see Tigre do it - but only after a 4 team play-off!!!


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