UFC legend Ronda Rousey visited Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday afternoon to watch Flamengo X Santos in 2015.

UFC legend Ronda Rousey visited Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday afternoon to watch Flamengo X Santos in 2015.

Flamengo Regatta Club (Clube de Regatas do Flamengo) is the most loved (and most hated) Brazilian soccer team. Alongside Corinthians, from São Paulo, according to some polls made many times ago, they are the teams with the largest crowds of Brazil.

Countless legends of Brazilian soccer have passed for the Flamengo team, including Zico, affectionately called “Galinho de Quintino”, and Junior — in my view, the best left-back Brazil has ever had. After a few years in the red, and adding delays in payments to its players for some years, Flamengo began to turn the corner with a makeover from 2013 and reached great feats in 2019.

Even without having made any significant sales of players in that year, the Flamengo “institution” achieved the highest profit in the history of Brazilian football. According to the financial statement released at the beginning of 2015, the club had a surplus of R$64,311 million in 2014 and left Pelé’s Santos, who carried the mark until then. Santos ended 2005 with a turnover of R$63,167 million, driven by their “golden boys”. Among them, at the time, Robinho. This is a detail that further highlights the Flamengo feat.

With Robinho’s transfer to Real Madrid and Léo’s to Benfica, among others, Santos, at the time, earned R$93,577 millions, just through the negotiation of federative rights of its players. The figure was responsible for 69.1% of all revenue collected that year. But going back to talking about “Mengo”, I remember that this feat was achieved thanks to support in other revenues, such as television rights, collection at the box office and partnerships with sponsors.

Flamengo, in 2015, continued its recovery path since, at the end of 2014, it had a net debt of R$ 698 million. Until that year, the club went through a period of great austerity and gave priority to the payment of debts. Between 2016 and 2018, management increased financial contributions to football to bring in great names like Diego, Everton Ribeiro and Vitinho. In 2019, there was aggressiveness in the market and in high investments with large hiring of athletes.

Arrascaeta was part of the cast of the magnificent 2019 campaign.

A year crowned with important titles, such as the Brazilian Championship and the Libertadores da América, and with distinguished players that can play in any team in the world — like Gabigol, Gerson, Bruno Henrique, Rodrigo Caio, Arrascaeta, Rafinha and Filipe Luís. That same year, “Mengo” sold one of his most promising stars. The 18-year-old Vinicius Junior — holder of the powerful Spanish Real Madrid in 2020.

But Flamengo is neither a club, nor a Brazilian team. Flamengo is an institution that represents Rio de Janeiro and Brazilian soccer. An institution that represents the Brazilian’s love for football and the sweat of hard-working Brazilians. It represents the large mass of Brazilians scattered throughout the country, from a tiny and poor city in the state of Paraíba to a medium-sized and promising city in the state of Paraná. To get a better idea of Flamengo “institution” and what it represents, I mention two cases between 2015 and 2016 that involve international celebrities.

By promoting “Fast and Furious” movie (partly filmed in Rio de Janeiro), Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson asked to wear a Flamengo shirt at the film’s press conference in Brazil. In addition, Ronda Rousey, the day after her victory at UFC 190 in Rio, went to Maracanã to watch a game of “Mengo” with a red-black shirt, making even more Brazilians fall in love with her. As the singer Pit Bull says… ”Dale, Mengo!”.

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