Open Letter


Viçosa, January 2nd, 2024

Last December 24th, FIFA and CONMEBOL jointly signed a letter sent to the CBF informing about possible sanctions for the entity and, consequently, for Brazilian Football following articles 14 and 19 of the FIFA Statute. This punishment would generally affect national teams (women’s, men’s, Olympic, and youth teams) and Brazilian clubs that may be suspended from competitions managed by CONMEBOL and FIFA. However, this punishment could have more severe impacts and reach the youth teams and training projects, which would be even more strangled by the lack of financial resources (which are currently scarce). Furthermore, without Brazilian participation in international competitions (South American and World Cups), the exposure of athletes and professionals in the football market would drop sharply, potentially causing a loss of financial value in all sectors of the football industry.

As regards this situation and the requests for information made by professionals from the national/international press, football professionals, coaches, students, and alumni since the publication of this letter from FIFA and CONMEBOL, we decided to write this letter together to bring marketing and scientific information, which allows a systemic reflection on the impacts of this punishment. In this way, we fulfill the academic, educational, and social support purposes of our institutions (UFV and UFMG), which, over the last decade, in particular, have worked in partnership to give our contribution to the development of Brazilian football. 

Over the years, we carried out hundreds of consultancies and lectures, published more than 300 scientific articles and books, and developed soccer specialization courses, congresses, and symposiums to comply with the qualified training of professionals for Brazilian and world football[1].

The data that will be exposed in this letter comes from recently published scientific articles on Brazilian Football and data from reports by CBF/Ernest Young[2] and Convocados 2023[3], in addition to the information available on the official website of the CBF and State Federations. The purpose is to promote an understanding of the current moment of the development of Brazilian football and correlate it with possible economic, social, and sporting impacts that could occur throughout the football production chain (inside and outside of the pitch) if the sanctions proposed by FIFA and CONMEBOL are implemented.

According to the latest report released by the CBF, football has an impact of 0.72% on Brazil’s GDP, generating approximately 156 thousand jobs in more than 250 competitions. In this context, the financial amount handled is around R$52.9 billion, representing R$3.34 billion in salaries and social security contributions. Brazil also has approximately 360,000 athletes, 7,000 clubs, and 798 stadiums, where more than 19,000 matches are held annually (64% in youth categories, 31% in professional categories, 5% in women’s categories), which corresponds to 29,000 hours of football, an average of 50 games per day across the country. For every R$1.00 contributed directly to football (through advertising, TV rights, and box office), there is an impact of R$3.43 reais on the Brazilian economy.

In organizational terms, 722 clubs with active professional activities in the country were recorded in 2022 (post-pandemic). This number represents a 25.75% growth compared to the number of 575 active clubs in 2020 (during the pandemic), which demonstrates a rapid recovery close to the magnitude of the loss during the pandemic. In addition to this quantitative data, it is essential to highlight that this growth/resurgence of Brazilian football also meant expansion and greater participation of clubs in Brazil’s North and Northeast regions (the most significant number of clubs competing in the country’s main competitions since 1902). This capillarization of football’s sporting and economic activities across the country is in line with the conclusions of the Brazilian Football Talent Map (Women’s[4] and Men’s[5]), published in two scientific papers and released by FIFA[6], and which presented the need for expansion of investments and more significant opportunities for practices for children and young people in the northeast and north regions of the country, since approximately 70% of football players in the country’s main competitions come from the south and southeast regions[7]. In this context, it is essential to highlight that the Brazilian government, via Programa Academia e Futebol with the support of Federal Universities and Institutes, has also been contributing to football being disseminated throughout the country and that more children and young people can benefit from the sporting, educational, cultural, social and economic impacts linked to sport.

Additionally, it is necessary to highlight the vast growth of women’s football nationwide. At the end of 2022, 198 clubs had activities under development, which represents an increase of almost 100% in the number of active clubs (109) in 2020. In Brazil, women’s football has grown by leaps and bounds regarding the audience, sports broadcasts, salaries, and hiring professionals. We currently have the Brazilian Championship with three series (A, B, and C) with 64 clubs, which contrasts, for example, with numbers from 2013, where we only had Series A with 20 clubs. In 10 years, we increased the number of clubs competing in national competitions by 68.34%, and we also observed an organic growth in the number of clubs spread across the country (Northeast 32%, Southeast 24%, North 21%, Central-West 13%, South 11%).

In terms of professional men’s football, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics considered[8] the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brazilian Championship) as the most competitive and challenging Championship in the world (1181 points), surpassing the Premier League in England (1086 points), the Spanish Championship /La Liga in Spain (967.5 points), Bundesliga in Germany (921.5 points), Serie A in Italy (866 points) and Ligue 1 in France (855 points). These data support the study published in 2023[9] that showed that the Brazilian Championship is among the five competitions in the world with the highest number of goals per match (average of 2.36 goals per game). Nowadays, Brazil is recognized for having one of the most competitive championships in the world, with a highly competitive technical balance, although there is room for improvements in financial fair play between clubs, especially in series A and B, first and second division, respectively.

Due to this technical impact, Brazilian clubs increased their revenues by around 89% between 2012-2021, moving amounts in the order of R$7.5 billion, of which R$1.9 billion is associated with player transfers. In economic terms, the Brazilian Championship is one of the most valuable in the world (approximately R$8.0 billion), staying behind only the European Big Five (Premier League, La Liga, Série A, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1). Furthermore, data published last year shows that 13 of the 15 most valuable clubs competing in competitions promoted by CONMEBOL are Brazilian[10].

In view of the current technical and financial scenarios, two “waves” have recently impacted Brazil’s football environment: Sociedade Anônima do Futebol – SAF’s (a corporate entity specifically for Brazilian soccer clubs) and sports betting. About SAF’s, Law 14,193/2021[11] brought more legal certainty and helped attract more international investors to national football and, consequently, has contributed to a greater exchange of professionals and athletes between the main continents and leagues in the world. Concerning sports betting, Law 14,790[12] just sanctioned three days ago, on December 30th, 2023, will allow the regularization and organization of its activity in the country since Brazil is the world leader in the ranking with the highest number of accesses to sports betting sites (3.19 billion times in 2022) [13].

Regarding the technical level and Brazilian national teams, FIFA’s and CONMEBOL’s sanctions on the CBF would already immediately impact Brazil’s participation in international tournaments in the short term. Until next Friday, January 5th, Brazil must register to compete in the Pre-Olympic Tournament that grants two places for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. If Brazil’s registration is denied, the Olympic football team could not participate in the Paris 2024 Olympics. In addition, there will be World Cup qualifying games, youth team tournaments, and Brazil’s bid to host the Women’s Football World Cup in 2027. Besides these points, Brazilian clubs participating in the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and Club World Cup, and South American and World Youth Team Competitions must be considered. Therefore, implementing FIFA’s and CONMEBOL’s punishment of the CBF would cause serious financial problems for the clubs and directly impact international competitions, especially on the South American continent, by selling broadcasting rights and sponsoring the abovementioned competitions.

To sum up, a punishment of this magnitude would significantly affect the whole productive chain, causing reduced jobs, lower collection of county, state, and federal taxes, and difficulties in maintaining projects/structures for training new players. In addition, there may also be an increase in dismissals of athletes and professionals both in the youth categories and in professional men’s and women’s football.

We consider, in the face of this complex picture of impacts and losses in the football industry, that a technical and professional solution must occur in the coming days to ensure the progress of economic and sporting activities in Brazil linked to the participation of Brazilian teams and clubs in competitions approved by FIFA and by CONMEBOL.

Israel Teoldo da Costa
Coordinator of Centre for Research and Studies in Soccer[14]
Universidade Federal de Viçosa
Varley Teoldo da Costa
Coordinator of UFMG Soccer Science Center Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

[1] More information on these websites , and social media ,

[2] Report available on

[3] Report available on

[4] TEOLDO, I.; MACHADO V. R.; CASANOVA, F.; CARDOSO, F. Talent map of female soccer: How does the birthplace and birthdate impact the participation of soccer players in Brazilian Serie A1 Championship?Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 2023.

[5] TEOLDO, Israel; CARDOSO, F.. Talent map: how demographic rate, human development index and birthdate can be decisive for the identification and development of soccer players in Brazil. Science and Medicine in Football[S. l.], v. 00, n. 00, p. 1–8, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/24733938.2020.1868559. Disponível em:


[7] More information is on this book: Caderno Metodológico para a Formação de Jogadores Mais Inteligentes e Criativos para o Jogo: Case UFV Soccer Academy. [Methodological handbook for developing more Intelligent and Creative Players to the Game].

[8] In 2022 and 2023.

[9] PINHEIRO, G. S. ; CAMPOS, D. H. S. ; COSTA, V. T. . Temporal goal scoring characteristics in elite Brazilian football: a longitudinal study. EDUCACIÓN FÍSICA Y CIENCIA, v. 25, p. e265, 2023

[10] Information available on:





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