Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Santos and Palmeiras Set to Benefit from Unification of National Titles

The CBF, Brazilian football's governing body, made an announcement this week regarding the history of the country's national championship. A decision has been made to unify the Campeonato Brasileiro (which came into existence in 1971) and the national competitions which existed before it; namely the Taça Brasil and the Torneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa. The Taça was contested between 1959 and 1968, whilst there were four editions of the 'Robertão' between 1967 and 1970.

The Palmeiras side that claimed the 1969 Robertão.

What this means, in real terms, is that sides who were victorious in thse competitions will now be able to count such successes alongside (and as of equal value to) their Brasileirão titles. Cruzeiro, for instance, who won the Taça Brasil in 1966 and the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2003, can now declare themselves bicampeão do Brasil. It should be noted however, that most clubs already considered such achievements as commensurate with their post-1970 triumphs. Fluminense's fans, for instance, unveiled an enormous 'JUNTOS PELO TRI' banner during their title-winning victory over Guarani, a plea that only makes sense if you count the club's 1970 Robertão title. To some extent, then, the CBF's decision merely brings official records into line with public feeling.

The flipside of the coin is that the organisation of these competitions bore little or no resemblence to the modern league format. The better sides often entered the tournaments at the semi-final stage, after the smaller regional clubs had contested the earlier rounds. This week's announcement, then, has created a backlash from the supporters of clubs whose titles were won over more than a handful of matches.

The main beneficiaries of the announcement are Santos and Palmeiras; the former gain six official titles (a move which will only enhance the legend of Pelé, incidentally), whilst the latter see their tally increased by four. The full list of winners from the competitions in question is as follows;

Taça Brasil

1959 - Bahia
1960 - Palmeiras
1961 - Santos
1962 - Santos
1963 - Santos
1964 - Santos
1965 - Santos
1966 - Cruzeiro
1967 - Palmeiras
1968 - Botafogo

Torneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa

1967 - Palmeiras
1968 - Santos
1969 - Palmeiras
1970 - Fluminense

In light of these records, Palmeiras and Santos are now the clubs with the most national titles overall, with eight. São Paulo and Flamengo are next with six apiece, whilst Corinthians and Vasco have four. The full classification is as follows;

8 titles
Palmeiras (1960, 1967, 1967, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1993, 1994)
Santos (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 2002, 2004)

6 titles
Flamengo (1980, 1982, 1983, 1987*, 1992, 2009)
São Paulo (1977, 1986, 1991, 2006, 2007, 2008)

4 titles
Corinthians (1990, 1998, 1999, 2005)
Vasco da Gama (1974, 1989, 1997, 2000)

3 titles
Fluminense (1970, 1984, 2010)
Internacional (1975, 1976, 1979)

2 titles
Bahia (1959, 1988)
Botafogo (1968, 1995)
Cruzeiro (1966, 2003)
Grêmio (1981, 1996)

1 title
Atlético Mineiro (1971)
Atlético Paranaense (2001)
Coritiba (1985)
Guarani (1978)
Sport (1987*)

*The 1987 championship was split into to two 'modules.' One was won by Sport, the other by Flamengo. There is some debate in Brazil as to which of these should be counted in official records, so I've hedged my bets and taken account of both.