Good morning and welcome back to the Brazil Sports newsletter. This week, we have tears in the Women’s World Cup after Brazil’s elimination at the hands of the host nation, but we also have some positive signs from the men’s team, which won convincingly this weekend and went into the Copa America quarter-finals on a high. Plus, the future of sports betting in Brazil. Happy reading!
Sports betting in Brazil
In the UK, gambling and football are inextricably linked. With a betting shop on almost every street corner, pubs on the weekend are full of punters glued to their phones, attentively following matches from Spain, Switzerland, Holland, or what have you, hoping their ten-team accumulator will come in.
In Brazil, this is not the case, as gambling on sports has been outlawed since 1946. Alternatives exist, such as a government-sponsored pools game which requires gamblers to predict the outcome of 14 random matches from a given week, and a reasonably popular fantasy football platform known as Cartola FC. Fixed-odds betting, however, is nowhere to be seen.
This could be about to change, however, as a law sanctioned in December of last year legalized the practice of fixed-odds sports betting in the country. This form of gambling has not yet been regulated however, and as things stand, betting companies will require permission from the federal government to set up shop in Brazil.
There is incredible room for growth for sports betting in the country, as a study from thinktank Fundação Getúlio Vargas estimates that the market already moves around BRL 4 billion a year, even working outside of the law. This comes down to the use of international betting sites in Brazil, which allow domestic punters to go online and gamble on Brazilian football, with several such services offering Portuguese versions of their websites.
Online bookmakers have also made a recent push to advertise heavily in Brazilian sport. British gambling operator Sportingbet is one of the most active in the country, circumventing the law by encouraging punters to “make predictions and win prizes,” as opposed to advertising the unregulated practice of fixed-odds betting.
We will be covering this discussion in more depth this week on The Brazilian Report, so stay tuned.
World Cup journey over for Brazil’s women
After their nail-biting victory over Italy on Tuesday, which saw Brazil’s women’s side qualify for the last 16 as the best-ranked third-place nation, the country’s World Cup campaign was cut short yesterday, as they lost to hosts France in the first knockout round.
Brazil leave the competition with their heads held high, however, after a truly classic World Cup encounter. The heavily-favored home side were more clinical in front of goal, but for large parts of the match Brazil were the more dangerous side.
Valérie Gauvin gave France the lead on 52 minutes, but Brazil managed to get back level shortly after, when Milan midfielder Thaísa drilled home a loose ball inside the penalty area.
With a tie at 90 minutes, the match went to extra time, when Brazil’s fatigue began to set in. In the 105th minute, Amandine Henry got on the end of a deep indirect freekick and directed the ball past goalkeeper Barbara and into the net.
The squad was visibly distraught at the final whistle, with star player Marta giving an emotional and extremely powerful post-match interview. Looking directly at the camera and addressing women footballers all over Brazil, she implored them to “want it more, to train more, to be ready to play 90 minutes and then another 30 minutes.”
“Formiga won’t be around forever, neither will Marta, or Cristiane. Women’s football depends on you to survive,” she said.
Out of the World Cup, Brazil now sets its sights on the 2020 Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo. While still struggling for attention and support, the hype around this World Cup has been something Brazil has never seen before. Now, the hope is that Brazil can build on this positive performance and prepare themselves thoroughly for next year’s Olympics.
The fun begins in the Copa America
Let’s be realistic. The magic and excitement of the Copa America do not come in the group stages. With three groups of four teams, where eight qualify for the next round, one could argue it is harder to get knocked out than it is to progress to the quarter-finals.
Brazil suffered a little wobble on Tuesday evening, drawing a blank against Venezuela in Porto Alegre and being on the receiving end of another chorus of boos from their own fans. Their response was emphatic, however, destroying Peru on Saturday afternoon in Salvador, winning five goals to nil.
The story of the first round came in Group B, where Brazil’s rivals Argentina left it to the last match to scrape through in second place. An opening day loss to Colombia and a frustrating 1-1 draw against Paraguay left the Albiceleste tied for last place with Qatar. A final day win against the honorary South American Qataris allowed Argentina to stumble over the finish line.
Now the real action begins. The quarter-finals kick off on Thursday with Brazil as of yet unaware of their opponents. Group C finishes this evening, and the home side will know whether it will be Paraguay, Japan, or Ecuador they will need to dispatch to win a place in the final four.
Tite’s men will be buoyed by their impressive dismantling job of Peru and will be hoping to take this momentum all the way to the final on July 7. However, knockout play is different. A stubborn opponent, an off day from regular goalscorers, and anyone could be eliminated.
As things stand, they would face Paraguay, who knocked Brazil out in the 2011 and 2015 tournaments, both times on penalties. However, if there is a winner in Ecuador vs Japan tonight (a match for which only 5,000 tickets had been sold last week), Paraguay will be eliminated, and Brazil take on the victors. Neither side look particularly threatening, conceding an average of three goals a game.
Brazil in the NBA. In Thursday night’s NBA draft, Marcos “Didi” Louzada became the 15th Brazilian player picked for basketball’s leading championship. The New Orleans Pelicans selected the 19-year-old wing as the 35th overall pick. Mike Schmitz of ESPN described the youngster as a “Brazilian Josh Hart”, in reference to the Los Angeles Lakers guard.
Jean Lucas. Santos’ promising on-loan 20-year-old midfielder Jean Lucas is on his way to France. His parent club Flamengo approved the EUR 8m sale of the youngster to Lyon, where he will link up with director of football Juninho Pernambucano, and head coach Sylvinho.
Neymar. The press in Barcelona is becoming increasingly convinced that Neymar will be on his way back to the Camp Nou, after leaving the Catalan club two years ago to join Paris Saint-Germain. Latest gossip suggests the 27-year-old could be involved in a swap deal with compatriot Phillipe Coutinho. Meanwhile, there is also talk of Barcelona trying to bring back Daniel Alves, who has announced his exit from PSG.
Attendances. Clearly concerned with the negative press surrounding the low attendances at this year’s Copa America, Conmebol sent out an email to journalists highlighting that the tournament had “surpassed” the average crowds of the 2015 competition in Chile. An absolute values, Conmebol is correct, but they sneakily did not mention that the stadiums in Chile were far, far smaller.
World Surf League. Brazil’s Filipe Toledo won the Oi Rio Pro event of the World Surf League on Sunday. The 24-year-old managed 18.04 points in the final stage and sealed the win in home waters for the second year in a row. Toledo currently sits third in the overall rankings, behind John John Florence and Kolohe Andino.
Football at Cannes. Last year, Athletico-PR goalkeeper Santos was punished for checking his phone on the pitch (!!!) during a minute’s silence before a league match. The incident bemused fans, with the club later revealing that is was an awareness-raising campaign of the dangers of using cellphones in traffic. The player and team were vindicated this week, when the campaign (entitled “Distracted Goalkeeper”) won an award at the Cannes Lions festival.
Goal of the Week
Rounding off Brazil’s resounding 5-0 win over Peru on Saturday, Willian scored this glorious right-foot rocket from the angle of the penalty area. Wearing the vacated number 10 shirt, Willian stuck away a goal the injured Neymar would have been proud of.
- Brazil 0-0 Venezuela
- Argentina 1-1 Paraguay
- Peru 0-5 Brazil
- Qatar 0-2 Argentina
Women’s World Cup
- Italy 0-1 Brazil
- France 2-1 Brazil (after extra time)
- Brazil vs Paraguay/Japan/Ecuador (Thu. 21:30)
- Venezuela vs Argentina (Fri. 16:00)
- Colombia vs Uruguay/Chile (Fri. 20:00)
- Chile/Uruguay vs Peru/Paraguay (Sat. 16:00)