* Seedorf, Forlan move to Botafogo, Internacional
* Wealthy Brazilian clubs turn to ageing foreign stars
By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO, July 7 Two of Brazil's biggest
football clubs presented newly hired foreign imports on
Saturday, in the latest manifestation of the newfound spending
power that has recently helped keep some of the country's own
talent from moving abroad.
Clarence Seedorf and Diego Forlan debuted for Botafogo and
Internacional, respectively, as the Dutch and Uruguayan
veterans, long past their prime in the marquee leagues of
Europe, keep their careers going in a Brazilian league that has
been reinvigorated in recent years because of a recent economic
boom in South America's biggest country.
Brazilian clubs often repatriate their own ageing stars when
their careers in Europe are over. Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos,
Ronaldinho Gaucho, Luis Fabiano, and others have come back to
the country in recent years.
Growing wealth among Brazilian teams has also enabled them
to keep young talents like Neymar, the ascendant Santos forward,
from following their predecessors across the Atlantic, much less
to developing leagues in China, the United States, or the Middle
A strong Brazilian currency, and lucrative sponsorship
deals, mean many young Brazilian players can earn as much as
they would by making the move to Europe.
With more than 30 million Brazilians having entered the
middle classes over the past decade, advertisers are investing
heavily in sponsorships. Television companies this year more
than doubled the amount they pay clubs for broadcast rights.
Brazilian teams, however, have rarely signed marquee
So the arrival of Forlan and Seedorf marks a new willingness
by Brazilian clubs to invest in banner players. Forlan, 33, was
named best player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while
Seedorf, 36, won Champions League titles with Ajax Amsterdam,
Real Madrid, and AC Milan.
Neither Botafogo nor Internacional disclosed how much they
were paying their new recruits. Sports newspaper Lance, however,
said Forlan would receive 415,000 reais ($204,000) per month,
much of it from sponsors.
Forlan's three-year deal is with a club considered one of
the best run in Brazil. Internacional has 100,000 dues-paying
members - more than Spanish giants Real Madrid. When the player
arrived in the southern city of Porto Alegre on Saturday, 3,000
of them were there to meet him.
"The reception has been incredible," Forlan said at a news
conference. "I never thought I would arrive at an airport and
see all this love. It's something new for me. It's spectacular."
When asked why foreign players might come to Brazil, he
mentioned Brazil's increasing dominance in regional tournaments,
with three different Brazilian teams winning the last three Copa
Libertadores. Brazil's hosting of the 2013 Confederations Cup
and the 2014 World Cup would mean even more attention for the
sport in the country, he added.
"Players want to play here," Forlan said.
Botafogo, meanwhile, turned Seedorf's arrival into a banner
occasion before the club's league game against Bahia on Saturday
evening. The midfielder was flown to Rio de Janeiro's Engenhão
stadium in a helicopter before being presented with his No. 10
A crowd of 17,000 people turned up, almost three times the
number present at Botafogo's last home game against Ponte Preta.
The former AC Milan player reportedly turned down offers
from clubs in the U.S. and Middle East to sign the two-year
Both players also have personal reasons for coming to
Brazil. Forlan's new club is based in Porto Alegre, just a
90-minute flight from his home city of Montevideo. And Seedorf,
who is married to a Brazilian, already owns property in Rio.
The newfound wealth of Brazilian clubs has limits, which has
kept most of them from paying the exorbitant transfer fees
required when some players break their contracts. Both Forlan
and Seedorf were free agents, though.
Brazilian teams, meanwhile, are likely to keep selling their
young prospects if the price is right. Forlan's arrival has
prompted speculation that Internacional could sell Leandro
Damiao or Oscar to teams abroad.
(Editing by Paulo Prada and Patrick Johnston)