I had spoke about this subject a month ago, but now that the move is wrapped, I can finally look deeper into it. It was well known that Seedorf was looking to finish his career in Brazil: his wife is Brazilian, he spent most of his vacations in Rio, he has a children’s project in Bahia, and he openly talked about his wishes. Teams were always linked to him, but none made a significant move until the last couple of months. And now the deal is gladly done
I’m not a Botafogo supporter as it stands, but as a fan of Seedorf, I cherish this moment. I’m even considering going to a Botafogo game just to see him play. And while it is a marquee signing by Botafogo, it also is a marquee moment for Brazilian football in its history.
It’s true some teams have signed some stellar players from Latin America, like Palmeiras under Parmalat sponsorship with Arce and Gamarra in the 1990s and Corinthians under Kia Joorabchian bringing Carlos Tévez and Mascherano in 2005. There were other signings, but they were either not marquee signings which eventually turned out great (see Darío Conca with Fluminense at 2008) or utter failure (see Santiago Silva at Corinthians in 2002).
But we’ve never seen European players making their way to Brazil. I thought we’d start with Portuguese and Spanish players with careers not so successful, but we started with someone who’s been one of the best in the sport for a long time, with an extensive career and winning titles wherever he was.
It’s not only a matter of stature, but also a matter of marketing. The Brazilian league has potential to be bigger than Copa Libertadores in importance, as it already is financially. No other football league in South America can match Brazil’s financial power, and it’s only a matter of time before Brazilian teams establishes themselves as sure winners.
Some purists will only point to the bad of neglecting Copa Libertadores. I can already hear arguments citing “tradition” and “unfairness” and “parity”. Well, I can’t do much. If Brazil is “thriving” economically (at least their national league is) while teams around Latin America are reducing their receipts, they should adapt to those times or drop out. And I can’t see how they will manage to adapt to this change of course.
Dominance isn’t a good thing, but as Argentina dominated South American football in their 1st steps due mostly to a superior financial power, now the table is reverted. And I hope I’ll be a witness of it.
There are also other factors in the Seedorf equation, and one of them is cultural. While Brazil is known by its hospitality and fair-weather people, China and Middle East are the opposite. While Seedorf would get a much bigger paycheck at those parts of the world, who knows if he would adapt to a totally different culture? There are people who thrive there, but at this point of his career, maybe he can give up millionaire wages to “play for fun” with significant less money.
Reports say his contract runs for 2 years and Seedorf’s monthly wages will be at most €200,000 – less than he received at Milan. He could earn a bit more in other teams, but it seems that only Botafogo showed real interest this time. The significantly low wages are also a reflect of his age: in an interview, Seedorf said he was looking for a team where he wouldn’t be required to play too much, as his body wouldn’t be able to start every game. So Botafogo will have to make a good plan as to when to play him, or keep him as an option.
Will it become a trend? Will we see more European stars willing to finish their careers in Brazil, helping their sides to profit on their names and increasing Brazilian League quality? I hope so. Until then, I’ll be happy to watch Seedorf scoring goals; hopefully he won’t score against my team.