Former Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe "Big Phil" Scolari has unveiled his new edition Samba Boys, capping just five men who play in Brazil with the other eightteen contracted to big money clubs in England and Europe.
Unless last minute injuries cause changes forwards Neymar (Santos), Ronaldinho (Atletico Mineiro) and Luiz Fabiano (Sao Paulo) and midfielders Arouca (Santos) and Paulinho (Corinthians) will be the only players from Brazil's debt plagued first division who are part of "Big Phil's" squad.
Chiding his former boss Roman Abramovich, "Big Phil" has capped Chelsea midfielders Ramires and Oscar and defender David Luiz, who will shift their loyalties from Team Abramovich to Team Brazil wearing the canary yellow and blue kit for the big FIFA outing against England at Wembley February 6th.
The team balance is out of sync with FIFA president Sepp Blatter's calls for a quota system to limit the number of national team caps who play outside their homeland.
Spain, meanwhile, has proved Blatter's theory right by winning the FIFA 2010 South Africa World Cup with only 25% of the squad playing for teams abroad.
In a conference call Wednesday, in which this writer participated, sports minister Aldo Rebelo addressed that issue, attributing the small number of local stars playing on the national team in part to the poor financial health of Brazil's traditional first division sides like Flamengo and Vasco, among others.
While noting that league foootball in Brazil and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) that governs it under the aegis of FIFA are private enterprise, minister Rebelo said there is an urgent need for the implementation sound professional sports managment to improve the situation.
Rebelo is a supporter of Palmeiras, the Sao Paulo side founded by some of the city's elite Italian families. Prior to taking over the national team Scolari coached Palmeiras for two seasons winning the Copa do Brasil in 2012. But the team and Scolari parted ways over differences in management practices. In his conference call Rebelo told bloggers and journalists that as a private citizen he actively campaigned to elect a new president to run Palmeiras who is committed to more progressive and transparent management practices.
Last Septeptember British prime minister David Cameron met with president Dilma Rousseff and others during his Bravil visit resulting in cooperation in sports mangement and security to help the 2016 Rio Olympic Games become a more successful event. But the ensuing consulting arrangements did not include league football or the FIFA 2014 World Cup.
According to Rebelo, some funds from the national lottery game Time Mania (Team Mania) do help subsidize league football in Brazil, helping struggling teams pay their debts. But the minister describes the proceeds as being inconsequential. While using the logos of popular league football teams the game, run by the government owned bank Caixa Federal, is still a straight lottery and does not offer the pool style team picks one finds in Britain or the popular Totto betting game that is available everwhere in Germany.
In a development that could pave the way for legal football and casino gambling in Brazil the Caixa Federal recently guaranteed an important stake in casino and hotel mogul Donald Trump's $2.7 billion luxury office, residential and shopping complex that will go up next to the Morro de Providencia favela along Rio's waterfront.
Unlike his luxury venues in tax havens Panama and Uruguay, the Rio project is the only Trump property in Latin America that does not include or stand in proximity to a casino. Brazilians gamble an estimated $4 billion a year on legal lottery products through the Caixa Federal.
If a gambling bill currently pending in Brazil's congress gets off the bubble the law would dedicate a fixed percentage of regulated casino and other gambling action to fund education, health care and other Workers Party entitlement programs, a big plus for president Dilma Rousseff who is up for reelection during World Cup season next year.
When asked by this writer during the conference call if passage of legislation to open up gambling would generate additional revenue for football and social programs Rebelo talked around the question discussing only the existing Time Mania product.
With action on the Wembley match heating up bet shops are offering England at 17-10 to win, A Brazil victory is currently at 13-10 and a draw will pay out at 12-5.
For a team that has won five FIFA World Cups and exports its top stars while league football struggles developing economy Brazil generates only 2% of what minister Rebelo calls the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of worldwide football. He claims that England generates 30% and Spain around 20%. In spite of being the world's 6th largest economy bad sports management procedures have made Brazil's beautiful game a case study in the pathology of underdevelopment.
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