Premier League model nods to Brazilian football – GAME OF THE PEOPLE

FOR ALL the talk of samba football and the dudes at Copacabana beach juggling balls on the sand, Brazilian football is still largely anonymous to the rest of the world. Every four years the media focuses on the Brazilian national team and expectations invariably exceed reality – it’s now 20 years since they won the World Cup, eight since they were humiliated on their home turf by a creeping Germany. It’s international football, but what about Brazilian national football which, despite the export of hundreds of players, remains a mystery?

That may be about to change after a law is passed that will allow Brazilian clubs to behave as legal entities rather than non-profit organizations. This means that the free market will begin to dominate and influence the behavior of clubs, creating both winners and losers. This will surely be good news for the giants of the Brazilian game but could, if greed takes over, create greater imbalances than today. In 2020, revenue from the top five clubs accounted for 56% of overall revenue, with Flamengo alone achieving 14%. At present, the distribution of TV revenue is certainly suboptimal, with around a quarter of the total going to two clubs, Flamengo and Palmeiras, between 2017 and 2021.

But the restart of Brazilian football could also lead to greater professionalism and the creation of global franchises in a country whose main brand of football is unequivocally the national team.

It was starting to happen in a way, mainly thanks to the increased awareness of South America’s Copa Libertadores, which has received greater exposure in Europe in recent years, but not always for the right reasons.

But this new law will open the door to greater foreign investment, in fact it is already underway with two iconic but financially troubled Brazilian clubs, Botafogo and Vasca da Gama, benefiting from American investors. Meanwhile, another club, Cruzeiro, also facing tax problems, has been bought by World Cup legend Ronaldo. These three clubs had combined debts of around US$450 million and, according to EY, the total debt of the top-flight teams was US$1.9 billion (R$10.3 billion) in 2020. Besides these takeovers, two clubs were already owned. by companies, Red Bull Bragantino, which is now part of the Red Bull multi-club model, and Cuiba, which are backed by a tire company.

Along with the new law, Brazilian clubs are threatening to split off and form their own competition. Naturally, money is behind this initiative, although critics have called for Liga do Futebol Brasileiro (Libra) to be more than a way to distribute money on TV.

Brazilian national football has suffered from a poor image abroad and selling matches to broadcasters has always been difficult, even though some clubs have huge fanbases. The game was damaged by poor and short-term owners, poor playing surfaces, corruption, mob violence and an overloaded playing schedule. Brazil is stubbornly clinging to its state championships, which allow small clubs to become cannon fodder for the big names. But the biggest South American market is still obsessed with sports with more than 80% after the Serie A championship and three-quarters of the nation interested in football (source: Brand Finance).

Currently, six club presidents are committed to the new project, from Flamengo, Palmeiras, Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Santos and Red Bull Bragantino. Some believe a breakaway league will free Brazilian football from the shackles that have prevented real progress, calling it a moment of liberation.

TV money will be distributed more democratically, supporters say, although there are currently two versions on the table. The former is split at 40%, 30% based on performance and 30% on engagement, while the latter is 50% – 25% – 25%. However, the revival of Brazilian football basically depends on increasing the prize pool and successfully marketing Brazil to the rest of the world.

How realistic is the dream of increasing Brazil’s competitiveness? The country has always been seen as one of the potentials, but for various reasons it has rarely been realized on a consistent basis. From a football perspective, Brazilian clubs remain the dominant force in South America, winning six of the last 10 Copa Libertadores. Six of this year’s final 16 come from Brazil, including heavyweights Palmeiras, Flamengo and Corinthians.

An interesting development is the rise of Flamengo, one of the most popular clubs in Brazil and who have been trying to build a global reputation. Brand Finance’s Football 50 has been dominated by Europe since its inception, but for the first time a Brazilian club has made its way into the list, albeit at number 49. According to Brand Finance, Flamengo’s brand is far more advanced than Palmeiras, its closest competitor among Brazilian clubs.

Will Brazilian clubs ever be able to generate enough money to retain some of the talent sold overseas before they reach their peak? As one journalist pointed out, if Brazil were to stop players from going to Europe, it would create the best league in the world. It’s a bold claim, but Brazil exports more footballers abroad than any other country, but often fails to capture the full value. It should be noted that Brazilian club revenues in 2020 totaled 5.3 billion reais (£890m/US$1.1bn/€1bn).

Until revenues allow Brazilian football to compete with other leagues, it seems unlikely that the trade route will change, even if the trend is negative in terms of numbers. Between 2017 and 2022, 1,219 players left Brazil with Portugal as the main route (source: CIES Football Observatory). Also, any conception of creating a Club World Cup will be a bit hollow when Europe is so dominant.

Like the so-called “Football Inc.” As the initiative becomes more definite, it is not difficult to envision a wave of investment in Brazilian football in the next 12 months as there could be a huge upside for clubs with massive fanbases. It could also trigger some of the latest developments in the football industry, such as cryptocurrencies, data-driven and more strategic transfers and the arrival of more investors with multi-club wallets. Another factor could be an influx of foreign talent into a league that has a low percentage (


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