Football: Santos, the former club of Pele and Neymar, relegated to the Brazilian second division

In Brazil, it's a cataclysm. 111 years after its creation, the Santos club was relegated to the second division for the first time in its history. The iconic club where Pele played for 18 years sank on the final day of the league.

The legend Pelé on a flag of the Brazilian club FC Santos. (Illustration). AP - Matias Delacroix

By: Antoine Grognet Follow


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Less than a year after the mourning of King Pelé, a legend of the Paulista club, Santos fans ended their 2023 in anger. Cars were set on fire, the area around the Vila Belmiro stadium was vandalized, and tears were thrown to no end. Those of the fans in the stands, and those of the players on the pitch.

Joao Paulo, inconsolable at the final whistle, but powerless. The Santos goalkeeper was beaten twice against Fortaleza, twice too many: those that sent Santos to the second division. The Sao Paulo team knew they were in danger, neck and neck with the clubs of Bahia and Vasco da Gama of Frenchman Dimitri Payet.

Pelé, Neymar, Robinho, Zé Roberto, Dunga...

A 38th and final matchday of the championship played simultaneously and during which each of the three clubs will have occupied in turn this 17th place, that of the first relegation place. To finally conclude with victories for Bahia and Vasco, condemning Santos to relegation.

A descent into Serie B as the culmination of a chaotic journey in recent seasons. Santos, 12th in the league last year, and whose last national title dates back to 2004. The endangered myth eventually gave way.

The Santos club, which has seen Neymar, Robinho, Zé Roberto, Dunga, etc., has been named the fifth best football club of the 2020th century according to FIFA. The Copa Libertadores final, lost in <> to rivals Palmeiras, will therefore remain the last achievement of a club that must now rebuild.

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