Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A tale of two cities: Rio and São Paulo sides endure annus horribilis despite growing wealth gap

At first glance, Brazilian football appears to sidestep one of the pitfalls of the game in many European countries. While only a small cluster of sides can hold realistic aspirations of winning La Liga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League, the Campeonato Brasileiro is far less predictable.

Before the gun sounds every May, this chaotic sports-day sprint of a league rarely has an obvious favourite, with eight, 10 or even 12 teams eyeing up a title challenge. Fortunes can change fast: Flamengo went from glory in 2009 to the brink of relegation the following year. Fluminense have repeated the trick this term.

The healthy glow is somewhat misleading, however. Slowly but surely, power is coalescing in the country’s biggest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Before this year, it had been a record nine seasons since the Série A crown had left the determined grip of Brazil’s south-east corridor, with clubs there exercising ever-growing financial clout.

My latest piece for Yahoo! Eurosport is on the power balance in Brazilian football. You can read it here.

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