The crisis in Brazilian football

I’m not the most fanatic fan of football, although I like it. I intend to describe a little bit of what has been happening on Brazilian football. And this crisis didn’t start being humiliated by German team on the last World Cup by 7 x 1, as the host of the event… It also remembers Barcelona beating up Santos for 8 x 0 during a preseason match.

How that shit happened? A question that still remains in Brazil. Pic taken from talksport.com

I haven’t played football beyond a hobby. The reason why I’m writing this post is that I’ve seen people abroad not having a clear overview of what’s fucking up Brazilian football. For someone who plays football, it may sound obvious. Basically, it’s the corruption (endemic in the country) and the mismanagement of the clubs, normally carrying huge debts.

How does the corruption affect the quality of Brazilian football? Just imagine agents wishing to promote their not so talented players. Where would they find the best chance to overvalue a player overnight? Foreigners usually don’t understant that Brazilian society is patrimonialist, which means use public goods and associations (like football clubs) as personal patrimony. And being frank, planning is not on our cultural roots, if CBF shows a plan, it’s better explain with the expression from the 1800's “pra inglês ver”, meaning something like “to show to the British (to cheat them and lie at their faces…, you know?)”.

It’s been a long time that I’m seeing people in Brazil not cheering for football as much as on my childhood times, for example; including myself. Scandals of corruptions involving managers of the clubs, football federations and the national confederation (CBF) + scandals of all kinds involving football stars + the decrease of the technical level of Brazilian league + the mismanagement of the clubs: all of this together has been creating a kind of skepticism on football. Why go to the stadiums, paying the increasing prices of the tickets to watch guys that don’t play enough to be stars and don’t show commitment to the sport?

I don’t even remember when was the last time I had the patience to watch a match from Brazilian League until the end. Well, it’s not like to watch a Champions League match regarding the technical quality, you know? I know much better clubs like Barcelona, Juventus, PSG than even the Brazilian clubs I used to follow about. And in a country famous for football, seeing many children dressing the t-shirts of Messi, David Luiz, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo shows how the credibility of Brazilian clubs is going on.

In the country of football, t-shirts of Barcelona and Real Madrid are showcased daily

Brazil sums up 5 world cups, has revealed lots of telented players like Cafu, Pelé, Rivelino, Romário, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, etc. Well, the list is long! Football players in Brazil are like shisha in Egypt, beautiful women in Russia and in Ukraine; you see everywhere!

Once a player dresses a Brazilian National Team t-shirt, it’s unavoidable the comparisons with those legends. And what about those players without that technical skills to play for Brazil? The reason is: there are persons using the National Team to promote players, and it’s such a showcase, right? It also explains why some really good players haven’t been related to play.

Where aren’t there Brazilian players nowadays? A guy from my city, for example, plays for Belarusian National Team, Renan Bressan. He left Brazil when he was 18 years old to play in Ukraine, before go to Belarus and not so many people here know him, while he’s famous in Eastern Europe. That’s what happens with many players, as they have a chance to play abroad and leave Brazil unknown to become a star somewhere. In Brazil, once you’re 18 years old, either you sign a professional contract or quit football. Otherwise, nobody cares about you anymore! If have a chance to play for a foreigner national team, why not play? It’s one of the most important things for their career.

Renan Bressan playing for Belarus against Brazil in the 2012 Olympic Games. Pic taken diariocatarinense.clicrbs.com.br

The commerce on football has been growing so much that even those who stablish a career in Brazil have been going to countries where nobody would associate to football, instead to transfer only the traditional leagues such as Italy, Germany and Spain. As Brazilian league is far away to be competitive, for the players, there’s no difference bewteen play in Brazil and play in countries like China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Sweden, Greece, Saudi Arabia, etc.

But the Saudi/Kazakh/Chinese, etc. League is not competitive, he’d play only few macthes during a whole semester…Yeah, that’s true! But imagine yourself on the player’s shoes: a salary of US$ 200.000 + rewards in cash +US$ 5.000 per each goal he scores + club provides place to live, a car and flight tickets to Brazil….Would you deny such proposal?

To make things even worst, Brazilian clubs usually don’t respect the contract agreed with the players. Even the stars can retire from the sport and sue the clubs where they used to represent to receive what they have to. A big reason for many of those playing abroad never go back until save up some millions of dollars. Their career is short and it’s what they have to do! When they have this awareness.

Another fact that is also linked to the crisis in Brazilian football is the necessity to work on the personal education of the players. Mostly, they come from tough social backgrounds, very poor families, low scholarity (and their careers start early, so, no way to study while playing and training) and when their careers start to flow, their lives change 180º degrees. Normally, nobody cares about it! You see young players playing and training like a hell day and night, and agents who only want to sell them abroad! That’s all!

From the extreme poverty and all kinds of privations,they become millionaires in a short time with the possibility to afford everything they could dream: cars, fancy houses, clothes, women wanting to have a baby, invitations for all parties, etc. The moment when many of them start to lose the mind and the focus on football. Those always involved in scandals and troubles simply don’t have the structure to manage the money and fame suddenly achieved.

Lack of discipline on the team, troubles with alcohol and drugs are some of the symptons of this aspect. The list of scandals involving football stars is long and it’s not my intention to judge. Of course, these kind of behaviors are not exclusive of Brazilian players, but from the moment stars stop to show a great performance that gave them visibility due to personal problems, it also affects their professional life and the perfomance of their teams.

Moreover, the clubs are infected with the short term mindset, that’s part of our culture, which means no strategic planning on a long term. For English, Germans, Dutchs, it’s taken as obvious design a plan and follow it step by step, right? Well, this is not so common in Brazil! Coaches, for example, usually don’t sign contracts for more than 1 year. How to plan a team under this situation? Being a coach in Brazil means make miracles everyday. Another example, on the last World Cup, there were stadiums not finished 3 months before the competition…Did you get the point? Or do you believe on CBF’s marketing yet?

When this crisis is going to finish? Being sincerely, if the mismanagement and the corruption remain like right now, it’s not going to be so soon. I wouldn’t find weird seeing Brazil not qualifying for at least one of the next World Cups. Let’s see what’s going to happen!

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