Brazil’s top-tier soccer clubs are closer than ever to forming a new breakaway superleague, with three investor groups in discussions with clubs to form the league as early as 2023. The majority of clubs in the first division are on board and, for the first time, have the backing of the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) to replace the current national league, the Campeonato Brasileirão.
The urgency to form the new league has partly arisen in response to the huge debts most clubs accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic and partly because current broadcasting rights deals for the Brasileirão end in 2024.
The first group to announce its interest in forming a new league is headed by Ricardo Fort, a former Coca Cola executive and the founder of Sport by Fort consulting agency. Fort is joined by lawyer Flavio Zveiter, partner Lawrence Magrath, and outside consultants including former ESPN executive Scott Guglielmino, Charlie Stillitano from Relevant Sports Group and former Liverpool FC chief executive Rick Parry. The group has been open about their interest since last July.
“I think that the environment for the creation of the league now is better than has ever been,” Fort said in an interview.
A few weeks ago, LiveMode and 1190 Sports announced their interest in working with the clubs to build a new league. LiveMode is the commercial rights agency for two regional tournaments in Brazil, and handles regional sponsorship sales for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 1190 Sports manages the international broadcast rights of the Argentine Professional Football League and the top two divisions of the Brasileirao
“Our proposal allows maximizing the income of the league through innovative rights management,” Hernan Donnari, CEO and co-founder of 1190 Sports and Edgar Diniz, CEO and co-founder of LiveMode, said in a joint statement. The duo confirmed that they have commitments from international firms dedicated to “investing in projects and markets that have high potential, like Brazil.”
In addition to 1190 Sports/LiveMode, a third group has emerged that includes LaLiga, Spain’s main soccer league. LaLiga executives along with those from XP, a Brazilian investment bank, and consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal have had a meeting with Brazilian soccer clubs highlighting structure and challenges that the clubs may address on their journey to create the league. “What we have explained to the clubs is that a league only has value if four pillars are agreed among them,” said Frederico Luz, the managing director of A&M Sportainment Brazil in an exclusive conversation with Sportico. “Governance, financial control, compliance and centralized negotiation of main commercial rights.” The group will prepare a proposal once the clubs design and request the structure. “We believe the Brazilian league can be among the five most valuable leagues in the world.”
All three groups promise to create new revenue streams for the clubs and commercialize TV rights for national and international markets. In exchange, clubs would receive funds in a manner that would mirror some aspects of CVC’s in LaLiga.
This is not the first time a breakaway league project for Brazil was brought to the table. In 1987, Brazil’s 13 most prominent clubs formed a union called the Clube dos Treze. They even organized a tournament, Copa Uniao. But the lack of unity among clubs led to its failure. A different effort failed during the 1990s.
Clubs in Brazil are hopeful about this new era. Julio Casares, the president of powerhouse club Sao Paulo, told Sportico in November that the league has a better chance than ever to be created because prominent clubs and the CBF are on board this time.
“CBF and most clubs believe the league is necessary and support the project,” Fort said. “I believe they are close to selecting their partner and signing a document committing with the creation of the league in the coming weeks.”