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Running a lax ship
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By Ricardo Setyon
RIO DE JANEIRO, January 24 (DS)

Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio, the two top Brazilian players of the last 20 years, don't need any introduction.

Both have originally started in the midfield line, and have been calling themselves a defensive midfielder and an offensive midfielder. So acting more or less in the same area in the pitch, on the other hand, they act in the very same area outside of the pitch.

The two great friends have decided to become partners in a business. They opened a company, named CSR Futebol & Marketing. The aim of this business is taking care of football clubs in Brazil. The idea is to invest money in small clubs of the small cities in the country. CSR is financing the clubs, paying its debts, building practice centers, taking control of the nutrition and feeding of the athletes and bringing practice instruments such as balls, etc. In exchange, CSR gets all the structure that the club already has in order to develop the players work. But the main objective of CSR is to get a financial benefit on each and every player transfer.

Others also tried in the past to get involved in transactions of players from Brazil to foreign countries. Mainly Europe and Japan were the central markets for those players' businesses.
Famous players such as Zico and Careca, tried to make money this way, but the system chosen by them was to be the real owners and creators of one club only.

Instead of founding or owning new clubs, CSR understood it would be more profitable to become the administrators of already existing clubs, with serious and working infrastructures.
The experience of Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio showed, this is the best way to work with the astonishing amount of talented boys that exist in Brazil.

The very first club that was chosen by CSR and their partners was the modest and unknown GuaratinguetA, a club based in the city of the same name, located 178 kilometers west of Sao Paulo.
Their first investment was 600.000 Reais (around 280.000 US$), and it brought them quite a good benefit. A player named Trigueirinho, who was one of the bests in GuaratinguetÀ, reached a stage where he was called to spend a period of practice nowhere else but in Barcelona. Other players also were invited to join other less famous clubs. And the business went on.

The plans of Rivaldo, Cesar Sampaio and all the staff at CSR Futebol e Marketing did not stop on the modest Guaratingueta. The next step was a serious upgrade in their investment.
The name of the next club they chose to invest was Figueirense, the number 1 club of Santa Catarina Stare's capital city, Florianapolis. Figueirense was one of the top teams of the Southern part of the country with hundreds of thousands supporters.

They have hired a general manager on their own and started to build a stronger and stronger team. After some time of this special kind of joint venture, Figueirense was already placed among the four best clubs of the Brazil's second national division! After a few more months, Figueirense reached the great final of the Second National Division.

A victory could secure a place among the best Brazilian teams in the top Division of Brazil. But Figueirense experienced a problem on its way while playing Caxias do Sul in the final game.
CSR and their VIP owners started to recognize that things were not that easy. Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio had a taste of how bitter professional football can be outside of the pitch - on the management level.

Figueirense was winning 1-0 at the 46th minute of the second half. When the referee was already giving the extra two minutes, a huge crowd invaded the pitch while the ball was still moving.
After a great mess - with the police and all kinds of intruders on the pitch - the referee decided that there was no possibility to continue the match.

It was time for the judges of the Supreme Sports Court of Brazil to take part in the act and decide what would happen.
So far no decisions were taken. Just a huge drama, when a week later the referee presented his report with simply changing his mind.

In his first report the referee said that the game was over, and then the supporters invaded the pitch. So Figueirense could be celebrating their victory. But after aout 10 days the referee changed his version, saying that the President of the Referees Commission at the Brazilian Confederation had asked him to lie, pressuring him to put on the report that the game was really over. Instead, now the referee says that there was still at least a minute and 50 seconds to be played. And then the biggest scandal in the history of refereeing in Brazil started, unfortunately, with CSR and Rivaldo's and Cesar Sampaio's club Figueirense involvement in it.

While the dispute goes on, CSR does not seem to be less motivated at all. Figueirense is the top priority in all of CSR business at the moment. Trigueirinho, the same player that was in Barcelona, returned to Figueirense to strengthen the club.
The investments by CSR in the club so far amount half a million US$. This figure could change for 2002, depending on the results.

CSR have decided no to limit itself by investing in football clubs. One of the ways they plan to develop their business is to represent and assist players in their contract needs and manage their carriers. This phase of the business is planned to take real action when both Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio decide to stop their carrier as active football players.

Rivaldo has no plans to quit and keeps playing fantastically. Cesar Sampaio is in Japan now. He is facing some troubles whith his knees and has to think about his next steps.
Meanwhile, family and partners are taking care of the business, being under their supervision..

So both, Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio keep a very healthy distance from the business, as long as they keep playing. Back in Japan, Sampaio explains his view: " Whatever we can do for the clubs of CSR, we do not hesitate, and give our full support. And of course, as it is a business, we expect to see some return, some benefit, to be able to survive. But we are now concentrating on our job as players".

In Barcelona, Rivaldo avoids any talk about CSR. "Me and Cesar try to avoid interference and full contact with the clubs of CSR as much as possible. There are professionals hired to take care of every need. We financed, but after that, we simply took a distance, to concentrate on our job as players. We do not want people talking about how close I am to something other than Barcelona at this moment. As a professional player, I only think of Barcelona. That is my job, not CSR. After I finish playing, I will see what I do." Rivaldo said.

Let's hope the professional carrier of these players will not be ended so soon and they will continue delighting fans in Brazil and all over the world, but once they hang their boots, both seem to be headed for a very good future in their business.
 
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