Are Botafogo’s fans upset despite leading Brazil’s league?

When John Textor purchased Botafogo in 2021, it was a second of euphoria for the fans of one in every of Brazil’s most historic golf equipment. However, the connection between the bulk shareholder — in impact the proprietor — and the supporters has not been a simple one.

Two months in the past Textor de-activated his social media account, citing excess negativity. True, under no circumstances all of this was from Botafogo. Textor’s Eagle Holdings additionally has a big stake in Premier League facet Crystal Palace, Ligue 1 membership Lyon, and Molenbeek in Belgium. But Botafogo was absolutely the place the place the thrill surrounding his arrival was biggest, and due to this fact the place the comedown was all the time more likely to be strongest. But with out being solely cured, any rift between Textor and the fans can absolutely be eased by a look on the Brazilian league desk.

After three rounds, just one membership has a 100% report — Botafogo, the shock early leaders. The fans would possibly say that this merely restores them to their rightful place. After all, from Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Zagallo and Didi to Amarildo and Jairzinho, the membership provided most of the key gamers to that 1958-70 golden period of the Brazil nationwide workforce. But the gap between the glory of the previous and the newer actuality has been a painful one.

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Despite an impassioned band of supporters, Botafogo have primarily been Rio de Janeiro’s fourth pressure (behind Flamengo, Fluminense, and Vasco da Gama) in the previous couple of many years. On the sector they’ve made frequent visits to the second division. Off it they’d amassed money owed giant sufficient to threaten the membership’s survival.

The arrival of Textor was seen as a method resolve all of this in a single stroke. In fact, it was all the time going to be a lot more durable than that. The early expectations of the fans weren’t reasonable.

The Textor period is one thing of a check case for Brazilian soccer. Traditionally the golf equipment have all the time been social associations, not organised alongside enterprise traces. That modified in 2021 when a brand new legislation allowed for personal traders, each international and home, to purchase Brazilian golf equipment.

But Textor has expressed frustration over the law’s implementation and the way a membership negotiates with collectors. Faced with that uncertainty, has Textor been shedding curiosity in his funding, and different priorities? This is particularly pertinent given the multi-club nature of Textor’s funding. Where do Botafogo match within the hierarchy?

A low level within the fan-owner relationship was reached when winger Jeffinho, an enormous success story of final 12 months, was moved on to Lyon. Were Botafogo nothing greater than a feeder membership for the European outfits in Textor’s group?

In a method, Textor virtually actually made issues tougher for himself than they need to have been. He seems to have fallen in love with soccer as a consequence of watching the sport performed on the elite stage, and that is the usual that he set for his new membership.

One of his first strikes was to sack coach Enderson Moreira in Febuary 2022, who had simply taken the membership to the second division title, as a result of Textor may not see evidence of what he termed “the Botafogo way.” The new proprietor raved in regards to the calm possession of Bernardo Silva, and allowed the extra euphoric fans to dream of some model of Manchester City.

But actuality — within the brief time period at the very least — was by no means going to be so idyllic. The membership’s solely real intention in 2022 was to assemble a workforce in a rush that was adequate to carry its personal within the first division.

And through the use of contacts and gamers in locations different golf equipment weren’t, Portuguese coach Luis Castro was capable of do it. Some of the supporters have been happy. Many weren’t. They had been bought a challenge that was extra superb than mere pragmatism. The grumbles received louder within the early a part of this 12 months when Botafogo managed to complete exterior the primary 4 within the native Rio de Janeiro state championship.

When the way more aggressive nationwide league kicked off in April, few had religion — and but right here we’re, with Botafogo on their very own on the high of the desk. In fact, they might have misplaced all three of their video games. In the opener, at dwelling to Sao Paulo, they took one thing of a battering solely to win with a aim in stoppage time. The 2-1 victory away to Bahia was additionally achieved on the again foot. And then, final Sunday, got here an epic 3-2 conquer big native rivals Flamengo, a match the place Botafogo wanted all their resilience to carry a proficient opponent at bay.

The method of the wins displays the best way the workforce has been constructed. There is tempo on the flanks, that means that Botafogo can launch assaults with out over-committing. There is aerial energy in each penalty areas, and loads of good, old style grit as properly — combative centre-back Adryelson and skilled centre ahead Tiquinho Soares have been two of the most effective signings the membership has made. There is a gaggle of strong gamers with the nous to play inside their limitations. And in Lucas Perri, there may be an distinctive goalkeeper. This will not be a mix that can all the time be adequate.

But it’s serving to purchase time for the membership to place collectively a long-term technique — and for an establishment whose very existence was in jeopardy till Textor arrived, that’s absolutely progress. Will it’s sufficient for the passionate band of brothers and sisters who observe the membership from the stands? Amid a common local weather of pessimism and protests about ticket costs, simply over 10,000 turned as much as that opening recreation of the season in opposition to Sao Paulo.

The crowd this Sunday at dwelling to Atletico Mineiro must be a lot greater. A brand new chapter is opening up on this fascinating relationship between the North American membership proprietor and the South American fan.

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