Three of Brazil’s best-known football clubs are trying to mediate a truce between rival leagues wrestling for control of the sport in the country.
Closely held Botafogo, Cruzeiro and Vasco da Gama are working to bring together the backers of Libra and Liga Forte Futebol do Brasil, both of which want to forge a new model for Brazilian football, according to people familiar with the matter.
At the heart of the battle is the creation of a league structure that can keep Brazil’s top football talent in the country for longer and best attract foreign investment through the sale of lucrative broadcast rights. At present, Libra and LFF are proposing different ways of distributing any such revenue to Brazilian clubs.
Libra, which wants to offer bigger clubs a bigger share, already has the support of a number of historic teams, including Rio de Janeiro-based Botafogo, Flamengo and Vasco, and Cruzeiro from Belo Horizonte. It’s also been backed by the investment arm of Abu Dhabi’s wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. LFF, meanwhile, has the support of Rio’s Fluminense FC and financial backing from New York-based Serengeti Asset Management.
Representatives for Botafogo, LFF, Libra, Serengeti and Vasco declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Cruzeiro didn’t immediately provide comment.
Rich in talent, but dogged by years of financial mismanagement, Brazil’s clubs want to take advantage of new rules aimed at attracting more overseas money. Inspired by the English Premier League — the world’s richest football division — they are focused on achieving this through the sale and distribution of media rights.
Botafogo, Cruzeiro and Vasco are keen to help Libra and LFF reach a compromise and assuage the concerns of some smaller clubs about the criteria for splitting broadcast revenue, according to the people. Finding common ground will make Brazilian football an easier sell to outside investors, they said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.
Investors from the US have shown themselves to be among the most keen to capitalize on the revenue potential of football’s increasingly global reach. In the last 18 months, investment firms run by American financiers John Textor and Josh Wander have acquired Botafogo and Vasco, respectively, while former Brazil football star Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima took a controlling stake in Cruzeiro.
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