Brazilian football league system
|Brazilian football league system|
|Mato Grosso do Sul|
|Rio de Janeiro|
|Rio Grande do Norte|
|Rio Grande do Sul|
|Current Série A Champions (2012)|
The Brazilian football league system is a series of interconnected leagues for football clubs in Brazil. It consists of several independent pyramids, which are the national pyramid, and the state pyramids. As those pyramids are independent, clubs usually compete in both pyramids in the same year (a state and a national one). Both the national pyramid and the state pyramids consist of several different levels. The best placed teams in the state championships as well as the best ranked clubs in CBF's ranking compete in the Copa do Brasil.
There are two simultaneous and independent pyramids in the Brazilian football, the national pyramid, and the state pyramid.
While the national competitions are organized by CBF, the state championships are organized by the respective football federations of each state (for example, the Campeonato Pernambucano is organized by the Pernambuco Football Federation).
The national pyramid competitions starts in May and ends in December. The state pyramid has different duration and schedule in each state, but in states with clubs competing on the national first and second divisions, the main state championships run from January/February to April/May.
Most states have at least one secondary tournament involving smaller clubs not in the top two leagues of the national championship, this lesser championship runs from July to December. Besides the trophy, it may award the winner(s) places in the main tournament or in the Brazilian Cup next year.
Smaller states, whose clubs do not take part in national competitions have longer competitions, usually running during the "winter" months: April to October.
In the national pyramid, there are four leagues, the Série A, Série B, the Série C and the Série D. The Série A, Série B and Série C currently consist of 20 teams, while the Série D is contested by 40 teams. Before 2009 there was no Série D and the Série C had 64 teams. Each year, the four worst placed clubs in the Série A are relegated to the Série B and the four top placed clubs in the Série B are promoted to Série A. This relation of four promoted and four relegated is the same for the other levels.
The clubs competing in the Série D are the best placed state championship clubs of the same season which are not competing in the Série A, B or C. Clubs that are successful in their state leagues can rise higher in the pyramid, being promoted to the Série D, and eventually to higher levels. Some state federations organize special competitions with the purpose of qualifying teams to the Série D.
As a result of the rules detailed above, it is possible (and not unheard of) for a minor state championship club to rise to the Série A, and become successful in the competition. To achieve this, a club must qualify in the state championship and, later, qualify in Séries D, C and B.
Examples of clubs that went all the way up from the least state league until Série A are: Paraná Clube (founded 1989, played Série A in 1993), São Caetano (founded 1989, played Série A in 2000), Brasiliense (founded 2000, played Série A in 2005) and Ipatinga (founded 1998, to play Série A in 2008). None of them are in 2011 Série A, but Paraná and São Caetano had a relative success in Série A for a while. Brasiliense and Ipatinga, however, never played a second year in this competition, being quickly relegated to Série B.
The reverse is also possible: a club from Série A can be eventually relegated to the very least state league. A recent example is the very traditional América-MG (founded 1912, relegated from Série A in 2001, to Série C in 2005 and to state second division in 2007). América played in the Série C in 2008 and 2009, avoiding the Série D. The club is back to National competitions and to state first division, reaching Série A in 2011, although already relegated to Série B in 2012. Currently, at least four clubs (Fluminense, Náutico, Vitória and América-MG) have been relegated to Série C and successfully reappeared in Série A. Other clubs formerly in Série A, that were relegated to Séries C, D and to no-division have not so far recovered their strength; for example Santa Cruz, América-RJ, Remo, Juventude, Fortaleza and Paysandu.
In the state pyramid, which consists of several independent state championships, the participating clubs, which also include Série A and Série B clubs, are limited to their own states (however, there are some minor exceptions, like in the Campeonato Brasiliense, where Unaí from Minas Gerais, and Luziânia and Bosque Formosa Esporte Clube from Goiás also compete, due to their proximity to Brasília city). The leagues are usually divided in two, three or four levels. The number of clubs per level, as well as the number of levels, are different in each state. For example, in São Paulo there are 20 clubs in the first level, but in Rio de Janeiro there are 16, and in Rondônia there are just eight clubs. Also, the number of promoted and relegated clubs are different from one state to the other.
State championships may include obscure formats or experiment with proposed innovations in rules. Some rules adopted may be quite unfair. In Rio de Janeiro State Championship in 2008, the big four (Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama) always played home against the other participating clubs.
The state cups are usually played during the second half of the year, after the state championships have concluded. The participating teams are clubs not competing in the national championships and reserve teams of clubs competing in the national championships. Examples of such competitions are the Copa FGF, the Copa Paulista de Futebol and the Copa Rio.
Copa do Brasil
The Copa do Brasil is contested between the winners and best placed clubs of the previous season state championships, and by the best placed clubs in the CBF ranking. From 2013, it will be played between the months of April and November.
|1||Campeonato Brasileiro Série A
Bottom four teams relegated
|2||Campeonato Brasileiro Série B
Top four teams promoted
Bottom four teams relegated
|3||Campeonato Brasileiro Série C
20 clubs divided in 2 groups of 10
Bottom two teams of each group relegated
|4||Campeonato Brasileiro Série D
(championships not held in 2011 in italics)
|1||State Championships Top Divisions
Acre - Alagoas - Amapá - Amazonas - Bahia - Ceará - Distrito Federal - Espírito Santo - Goiás - Maranhão - Mato Grosso - Mato Grosso do Sul - Minas Gerais - Pará - Paraíba - Paraná - Pernambuco - Piauí - Rio de Janeiro - Rio Grande do Norte - Rio Grande do Sul - Rondônia - Roraima - Santa Catarina - São Paulo - Sergipe - Tocantins
|2||State Championships Second Divisions
Acre - Alagoas - Amapá - Amazonas - Bahia - Ceará - Distrito Federal - Espírito Santo - Goiás - Maranhão - Mato Grosso - Mato Grosso do Sul - Minas Gerais - Pará - Paraíba - Paraná - Pernambuco - Piauí - Rio de Janeiro - Rio Grande do Norte - Rio Grande do Sul - Rondônia - Santa Catarina - São Paulo - Sergipe - Tocantins
|3||State Championships Third Divisions
Bahia - Ceará - Distrito Federal - Goiás - Mato Grosso - Mato Grosso do Sul - Minas Gerais - Paraná - Pernambuco - Rio de Janeiro - Rio Grande do Sul - Santa Catarina - São Paulo
|4||State Championships Fourth Divisions
1The state championships are not officially hierarchically behind the Série D, but they are used by CBF as a way to promote clubs to the competition.
State league pyramid examples
The 2006 Campeonato Paulista table below is an example of a state league pyramid. It is divided in four levels. The first three levels are disputed by 20 teams each, while the fourth level is disputed by 44 clubs. The competitions are organized by the São Paulo Football Federation.
The 2008 Campeonato Catarinense table below is another example of a state league pyramid. It is divided in three levels. The first two levels are disputed by 12 teams (with the second being disputed by 3 from the first level plus nine from the second), while the third level is disputed by only 5 clubs. The competitions are organized by the Santa Catarina Football Federation. There are amateur competitions too, organized by the federation of each city, like Palhoça and São José. However, they are closed, and can't make it to the state main division without the approval of the board.
|3||Divisão de Acesso
|4||Several Amateur Leagues
The 2011 Campeonato Mineiro table below is another example of a state league pyramid. It is divided in three levels. The first and second levels are played by 12 teams each. The third level has a variable number of participating clubs each year. The number of participants in 2011 will be known in April. The competitions are organized by the Minas Gerais Football Federation.
- "Favorito ao título, Brasiliense apenas empata com o Esportivo" (in Portuguese). FBA (Futebol Brasil Associados). Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
- "Carioca de 2008 tem fórmula e grupos definidos" (in Portuguese). Gazeta Esportiva. Archived from the original on January 15, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2008.