Brazil’s money mak­ing ma­chine has seen the team turn into foot­ball’s Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters

Tehran Times - - WORLD SPORTS -

Their matches might be slightly more com­pet­i­tive than games in­volv­ing Har­lem’s most fa­mous bas­ket­ball team, but Brazil are be­com­ing Glo­be­trot­ters in their own right.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon they played a seem­ingly bizarre friendly in Lille against Ja­pan. Tues­day evening sees them travel to Wem­b­ley for a fix­ture against Eng­land.

These matches only seem weird if the last five years worth of fix­tures are not taken into ac­count. The money ma­chine that is the Brazil na­tional team have played 33 friendlies in that time. A stag­ger­ing 24 have taken place out­side of their own na­tion.

The tour does not end at Wem­b­ley. March sees two more high-pro­file friendlies. They take on Rus­sia to mark the re-open­ing of Moscow’s re­vamped Luzh­niki Sta­dium, which will stage the World Cup final, be­fore a trip to Ger­many. There are rea­sons be­hind that. Brazil spent the time be­tween the start of 2013 and sum­mer 2014 with­out any com­pet­i­tive fix­tures - bar­ring the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup - as they were pre­par­ing for their home World Cup.

As a re­sult, they were avail­able for matches around the world and prob­a­bly did not want to overdo the home games prior to a long in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment.

There is also an ar­gu­ment that many of the friendlies take place in venues that are con­ve­nient for their play­ers.

Only four of their cur­rent 25-man squad are not based in Europe.

It can­not be ar­gued that trips to Dick’s Sport­ing Goods Park in Den­ver or games at the Bei­jing Na­tional Sta­dium would be con­ve­nient for Europe-based play­ers. But a pair of matches in France and Eng­land stops Brazil from putting their squad through too many miles.

They are also, quite sim­ply, box of­fice. And this is the main rea­son be­hind their on­go­ing global tour. A game or­ga­nized against Ar­gentina for the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground in June this year drew 95,969 sup­port­ers. This was the sec­ond high­est at­ten­dance ever for a foot­ball game in Aus­tralia.

Even at sta­di­ums that are not as starved of good foot­ball, such as the Emi­rates, Brazil draw fans. A near-sell out 60,007 turned up in north Lon­don when they took on Chile back in March 2015.

Of course, there is a cost as­so­ci­ated with bring­ing Brazil to a sta­dium. Pitch In­ter­na­tional, a mar­ket­ing agency, cur­rently have the right to help or­gan­ise Brazil’s friendlies world­wide. It is un­der­stood that it has cost around £3mil­lion to bring Ney­mar and his team-mates to Wem­b­ley. The friendly against Rus­sia at Stam­ford Bridge in March 2013 was touted as cost­ing $3m (£2.2m) to or­ga­nize.

Even if a game is at a seem­ingly in­con­ve­nient time and lo­ca­tion, there is still a com­mer­cial ben­e­fit. The match against Ja­pan on Fri­day was or­ga­nized for a 1pm kick-off as that meant it would be broad­cast at peak time for an in­ter­ested Asian au­di­ence.

Some of the more un­likely lo­ca­tions Brazil have played games in in­clude the Unites States - where they have had six matches - China twice, South Korea, Sin­ga­pore and Turkey.

Matches in­volv­ing Brazil have drawn con­tro­versy in the past. An or­ga­ni­za­tion called Ken­taro man­aged Brazil’s in­ter­na­tional friendlies un­til 2012.

A friendly held in Qatar against Ar­gentina three weeks be­fore the vote which awarded the Gulf state the 2022 World Cup was in­ves­ti­gated by Swiss au­thor­i­ties over where the $8.6m (£6.5m) match fee flowed. Brazil’s FA re­ceived $1.15m (£878,000) - a fig­ure there are no le­gal is­sues over.

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