Yes, Learn to Live with SAFa

Rodrigo Monteiro de Castro's picture
Published: 16/03/23 - Country: Brazil

The theme of this column suggests a dialogue with a text recently published by the general editor of sports at Estadão, journalist Robson Morelli, whose title is "learn to live with the SAF".
Incidentally, as the country lacks the practice of dialectics, aiming at the construction of ideas, projects and public policies in the interest of the community. Here, he has become accustomed to a kind of monologue, mainly intellectual and academic, so that constructive counterpoints are rarely established; or, when they occur, they are taken personally by those involved.

Contrary to what is observed, for example, in the United States, where it is common - or, more than that, it is inevitable - the emergence of positions and oppositions, almost without end, between propositions or theses launched by any thinker. On a legal and even economic level, perennial antagonisms are formed, like Fla-Flu or São Paulo x Corinthians, between intellectuals, even bumping into a certain fetish: it is enough for an author to write something that, in the sequence, another, and always the same, already refutes it. With this, a solid argument is built that reinforces the functioning of institutions.

The purpose of this text is much less ambitious and does not lend itself to opposition; it is only intended to be a dialogue based on the same premises, but which, depending on the logic adopted, will serve to suggest different conclusions.

In the aforementioned article, the respected journalist states that "winning games and valuing the name of the club and its brand (the badge) is the only objective of the owners of the SAFs".

This statement deserves some consideration.

It does not seem that these are the only objectives, although they are part of the purpose of any investor or businessman (and should also be part of the objectives of a club). But is there a problem with that proposition? Is winning games a problem? And value the name of SAF and the team?

Remember that, currently, almost nobody outside the country knows the Brazilian teams, just as we Brazilians don't know, in general, Moroccan, Australian, Chinese, Senegalese, Algerian or Arab teams. More: few people will remember - or will have difficulty remembering - the non-European teams that eliminated Palmeiras, Internacional, Galo and, soon after, Flamengo, from the Club World Cup. But almost any child, from any country, will know how to talk about Real, Barcelona, Liverpool, the two Manchester teams, Liverpool and PSG. Being known, in terms of football, has become a necessity.

Ronaldo Nazário, in the case mentioned in the article, when joining Cruzeiro (and becoming the "owner" of the team, as well as a possible savior of the homeland), took the name of his SAF, without exaggeration, to the whole world. If he manages to transform it into a power, Ronaldo himself, SAF Cruzeiro, the Cruzeiro club, the team, the fans, Brazilian football and the country will win.

In the same text, the journalist states that Ronaldo Nazário and "all other" investors "are aiming at profit". Yes, and rightly so. Obtaining or seeking profit, when inserted in the Brazilian football environment, is usually treated as evil conduct, therefore, intolerable.

However, what is the harm in profit, if obtained legitimately? From another point of view, should the current model be maintained in which irresponsible top hats, unconcerned with balance, break their clubs and subtract hope from a contingent of fans, as did the previous leaders of Cruzeiro itself?

If a SAF reports a profit, it will indicate to the world that its revenues exceed its expenses and that whoever does business with it will deal with responsibility and the prospect of fulfilling duties and obligations. More than that: that there should be a sustainable project.

It is also pointed out, in the mentioned text, that Ronaldo Nazário would be selling, at the high, 20% of his participation, to pocket a quick profit resulting from his investment. Accepting the premise - which will, however, be questioned later - would there be a sin or a breach of trust in the investor, by taking advantage of a market opportunity, after having run the risk of the business?

I understand not. By the way, he never said that he would not trade with his shares, after helping and, as it seems (or at least it is hoped), directing the rescue of Cruzeiro.
That said, it is worth pointing out that, in my opinion: (i) Cruzeiro is not yet on the rise, as it will need to prove itself in Serie A; in an edition that will be, perhaps, the most competitive of this century; (ii) the situation there, as Gabriel Lima, CEO of SAF Cruzeiro, frequently states, remains very complicated, and the objective for 2023 will be to remain where it is (ie, not drop to the B series); and (iii) according to public information contained in journalistic articles, Ronaldo is not selling shares; the investor will make a contribution, convertible into participation in SAF, so that the resources will go to SAF Cruzeiro itself, and not to Ronaldo, who will, as a result of the conversion, be diluted.

Another statement in the text stands out: "strong casts will value the club. Victories and achievements too. But it is undeniable that the fans will have to understand and get used to the new way of managing football. Player sales will be there all the time. The SAF presupposes this kind of disengaged action. The doubt, however, is whether there will be a replacement at the height".

This proposition deserves some reflection.

Does the description not match the reality of Brazilian clubs before the advent of the SAF Law and does it continue to match two years after its enactment? Didn't Brazilian clubs become, over time, exporters of beardless players? Who can retain a talented young man after half a dozen good introductions?

Take the case of the formerly powerful and now decadent São Paulo Futebol Clube: does it retain some of the talent it creates? And, in the environment of your contemporary vocation, that is, the trading of players, do you rise to the occasion? Where are the replacements for Casemiro, Militão, Neres, Antony, Sara or Marquinhos? And of Endrick, lost without compensation to his rival?

Similar examples can be extracted from all other Brazilian clubs, which do not have investors, but selfless directors who manage, in many cases, almost bankrupt estates, at the expense of the whole society, that is, of individuals or legal entities that pay their taxes. - including the new SAF's, which are taxed based on revenues.

Therefore: the success of the team managed by the SAF, the victories, the glory, the profit, the distribution of wealth, the negotiation of players, the payment of tribute, the reinvestment, the beginning of new cycles, and so on, for more counterintuitive as it may seem, are the points of convergence with the happiness of the fans.

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Rodrigo Monteiro de Castro's picture

Rodrigo Monteiro de Castro is specialized in corporate and business laws, corporate transactions (M&A), capital markets and contracts.

He holds a Master’s degree and a PhD degree in Commercial Law from PUC-SP. MBA from INSPER. Founder and Former Chairman of the Institute of Applied Corporate Law (“Instituto de Direito Societário Aplicado – IDSA”) (2004-2010). Chairman of the “Movimento de Defesa da Advocacia – MDA” and a member of the Organizing Committee of the Brazilian Congress of Commercial Law (“Congresso Brasileiro de Direito Comercial”). Chairman of the Monitoring Committee for the New Brazilian Commercial Code of the São Paulo Bar Association OAB/SP). Professor of Commercial Law at the Mackenzie Presbiterian University. Author of several books and papers and co-author of Bill No 4,303/12 (Sociedade Anônima Simplificada) and Bill No 5,082/16 (Soccer Corporation).