Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Brazil Go Nuts for Our Big Two Clubs

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Brazil Go Nuts for Our Big Two Clubs

Article excerpt

THE small football store in a regional town in southern Brazil has United and City shirts occupying pride of place in the window.

Inside, United's merchandise is almost as prevalent as that of the local heroes, Gremio and Inter, from the nearby city of Porto Alegre.

They're not village teams - both have been world champions and play in brand new stadiums with capacities of 60,000 and 56,000.

The store manager explains that he's sold four United shirts and two City shirts so far this year for just shy of Pounds 70 each, adding they that will sell many more in the bigger stores.

If you reverse it, it's inconceivable that a shop in Preston would offer Gremio or Inter shirts, but while Brazilian footballers are one of the country's most successful exports, the Brazilian league can't come close to the global appeal of England's Premier League.

Only Barcelona and Real Madrid can compete with English clubs.

If there's been a change in the last five years it's that City shirts have joined the ranks of football's biggest on sale all across South America.

United match Barcelona and Real Madrid for distribution, even in Spanish-speaking countries.

United feel they can do even better globally with their new, yet- to-besigned merchandise deal which will begin in 2015. But how much better can they do when their goods are already on sale all around the globe? Brazil has a competitive league which has seen eight different champions since 2000 and many clubs are moving into new stadiums ahead of the World Cup finals.

Should they have been built? Spending Pounds 2.25bn on new stadiums in a country where there's huge room for improvement in education, infrastructure and the health system infuriated many Brazilians.

They love football, but many felt there were more pressing causes.

Protests were prevalent around last year's Confederations Cup, partly because Brazilians knew the world was watching.

"The protests helped," says United's Brazilian defender Rafael, who is unlikely to make his national squad. …

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