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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Please move this thread where you deem fit :)

I found this short & insightfull. Note that this was published on 20th January this year. By that time 76 players left Brasil to outher countries already ...


Jan 20th 2005 | SÃO PAULO
From The Economist print edition
A growing export trade in soccer players

MANY Brazilians resent the fact that their country is often known abroad only for samba and football. Yet while its booming exports range from iron ore to aircraft, they also include footballers. Since the early 1990s, the number of players leaving the country to play for clubs abroad each year has risen from 130 to 850, making Brazil the world's biggest exporter of footballers.

Sadly, export success reflects domestic decay. Last year, an average match in the national championship attracted fewer than 8,000 supporters (compared with 35,000 in Britain's Premier League). One problem is corrupt club management: a Senate inquiry in 2001 found widespread tax evasion and money laundering.

Without professional management, clubs find it hard to pay top wages and players struggle to attract commercial endorsements. Manchester United and Real Madrid (with a Brazilian coach and stars) are global brands. But not since Pelé's Santos in the 1960s has a Brazilian club achieved international fame. Even in the 1980s, heroes such as Zico and Socrates went abroad only after long campaigns for local clubs. Today's stars, such as Ronaldinho Gaucho (pictured), had the briefest of club careers in Brazil before signing for European teams.

Now journeymen are following the stars to Europe. Of last year's exodus, some 200 went to Portugal, mostly to play in the lower divisions but on higher wages than at home. Less obviously, 25 went to Indonesia, while others now ply their trade on football fields from Armenia to Vietnam and Iceland to India. According to Luiz Fernando Sant'Anna, a São Paulo lawyer who specialises in football deals, a growing number are snapped up from youth teams and make their professional debuts outside Brazil.

Brazilian players cost European clubs less than local footballers of equivalent talent. Many fail to adapt to the change in climate and language. Some do and never return: Tunisia's squad at the 2002 World Cup included a naturalised Brazilian. He is an exception. According to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), Brazil imported 499 players last year. Nearly all were ageing returnees.

Luiz Gustavo Vieira de Castro, a director of the CBF, blames the exodus on the salary gap rather than poor management. Maybe so. A few clubs are better-run than in the past. In December, Corinthians of São Paulo, which has formed a partnership with MSI, a mysterious British firm which many think is backed by Russian-oligarch money, bucked the trend. It outbid European rivals to sign Carlos Tevez, a young Argentine star, for $20m. But already this year, 76 Brazilian players have moved abroad.
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