Brazilian tycoons have united to revive Flamengo on and off the pitch.
Brazilian oil and gas tycoon Rodolfo Landim "is among a group of wealthy businessmen trying to resurrect the fortunes" of the five-time Brasileiro champions Flamengo, which, like many clubs in Brazil, "has flirted with bankruptcy after decades of poor management and financial neglect," according to Joe Leahy of the FINANCIAL TIMES. With the World Cup kicking off on Thursday, Brazilians "are anxious over what legacy, if any, the planet’s largest sporting event will bequeath." While much of the country is skeptical about the benefits, Landim believes that, if nothing else, "the revamped stadiums could help Flamengo and Brazilian football professionalise further." Landim: "We had old-fashioned arenas before, today they are in line with the best in the world." The idea to resurrect the fortunes of Flamengo -- "whose heyday was in the 1980s with a team inspired by the legendary Zico" -- came when he and a group of high-flying friends met over a chopp, an ice-cold Brazilian draught beer. Landim and the group, which includes former central bank governor Carlos Langoni, Sky TV Brazil Head Luiz Eduardo Baptista and former steel exec and Rio 2016 CFO Rodrigo Tostes "fought and won elections to run the club." They "took up key management positions" in '12. One of the first tasks was to restructure the team’s 700M real debt, "which included unpaid taxes, wages and other bills." Such problems "are common in Brazilian football, forcing teams to sell their best players to the European clubs to make ends meet." Landim: "If you compare Spain, England, France and Italy, the level of professionalization of football here in Brazil is much lower on average." Landim and his team "managed to restructure some debts, getting the taxman off its back and cementing relations with corporate sponsors," from adidas to Caixa Econômica. The club "has doubled its revenue" (FT, 6/11