Santos Get Relegated for their First Time - Fans create Chaos at the stadium

Santos Get Relegated for their First Time - Fans create Chaos at the stadium

Analysis

Football

December 8th, 2023

SAO PAULO — On Thursday, the day after Santos was demoted for the first time in the Brazilian league, enraged supporters stormed the stadium where Pelé's burial was held earlier this year.

The iconic black and white team at Vila Belmiro Stadium, which once wowed spectators across the world, is now in debt, politically split, looking for new heroes, and pessimistic about its future in the second division as Brazilian football grows more competitive and expensive.

Approximately two dozen fans burst into the stadium in search of club president Andrés Rueda, who was working nearby at the King Pelé training area. The supporters blame the club's unpredictable administration — 10 managers in three years — as much as the players who had fallen 2-1 to Fortaleza the night before.

A victory would have retained Santos in Brazil's top flight, allowing the club to avoid relegation, which was also on the cards in the previous two seasons, not only in the league, but also in the far less competitive Sao Paulo state championship.

However, in front of over 20,000 fans, the combination of Venezuelan midfielder Jeferson Soteldo, Colombian striker Stiven Mendoza, and 20-year-old Brazil national team hopeful Marcos Leonardo were unable to do so.

Flamengo and Sao Paulo are the only two Brazilian top-flight clubs that have never been relegated.

Santos' demise in the Brazilian championship, which honored Pelé in the 10th minute of every match, in reference to the number of the shirt he made famous, damaged even more of the three-time World Cup winner's former teammates.

Santos has failed to sign players since before Pelé's death from colon cancer on December 29 at the age of 81. Several footballers who would never have set foot at the Vila Belmiro Stadium decades ago have become vital starts for the struggling squad, with midfielder Camacho serving as an example for supporters.

Santos remains one of Brazil's greatest soccer schools, but supporters are wondering what happened to the millions of euros spent for some of its young players. This year, the club transferred little-known striker Deivid Washington to Chelsea for 15 million euros ($16.1 million), but they still couldn't bring in stronger players to escape relegation and compete for a place in the renowned Copa Libertadores.

Santos coordinator Alexandre Gallo stated that the money was used to pay off the club's debt of over 700 million Brazilian reals ($142 million). Other local teams, such as Corinthians and Sao Paulo, have even bigger debts, but Santos has a smaller fan base, which restricts its possibilities of generating money.

As the team continues to seek its identity, it will be forced to compete in the second level next season with significantly reduced marketing and TV broadcasting earnings.

Still, others hope that it will not be as disastrous for the team that most Brazilians previously supported.

 

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Klind Parangoni Author

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