Brazilian football league system

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Brazilian football league system
Nation
 Brazil
Map of Brazil
States
 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
Current Série A Champions (2013)
Cruzeiro

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.

Structure[edit]

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.

National championships[edit]

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 each, while the Série D is contested by 40 teams. Série A and Série B are contested in a double-round-robin format by all clubs; Série C and Série D have regional groups. Before 2009 there was no Série D and the Série C had 64 teams in regionalized groups. 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 rich in history 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.

State championships[edit]

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).[1] 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. As the Série A and Série B clubs usually have to be seeded to avoid fixture congestion, 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.[2]

State cups[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Current system[edit]

Level League/Division
National Championships
1 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A
20 clubs
Bottom four teams relegated
2 Campeonato Brasileiro Série B
20 clubs
Top four teams promoted
Bottom four teams relegated
3 Campeonato Brasileiro Série C
20 clubs divided in 2 groups of 10
Semifinalists promoted
Bottom two teams of each group relegated
4 Campeonato Brasileiro Série D
41 clubs
Semifinalists promoted
No relegation1
State Championships1
(championships not held in 2011 in italics)
5 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
6 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
7 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
8 State Championships Fourth Divisions
São Paulo

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.

Current teams in Campeonato Brasileiro[edit]

Teams by state[edit]

In 2015 the following states will have teams in Series A, B and C.

Pos. State A B C Total
1 São Paulo (state) São Paulo 5 3 3 11
2 Santa Catarina (state) Santa Catarina 4 1 0 5
3 Rio de Janeiro (state) Rio de Janeiro 3 2 1 6
4 Minas Gerais Minas Gerais 2 2 2 6
5 Paraná (state) Paraná 2 1 1 4
6 Rio Grande do Sul Rio Grande do Sul 2 0 3 5
7 Pernambuco Pernambuco 1 2 1 4
8 Goiás Goiás 1 1 1 3
9 Bahia Bahia 0 2 0 2
10 Ceará Ceará 0 1 2 3
11 Alagoas Alagoas 0 1 1 2
11 Rio Grande do Norte Rio Grande do Norte 0 1 1 2
11 Mato Grosso Mato Grosso 0 1 1 2
11 Pará Pará 0 1 1 2
15 Maranhão Maranhão 0 1 0 1
16 Paraíba Paraíba 0 0 1 1
16 Sergipe Sergipe 0 0 1 1

The teams from each state participating in the 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro Series A, B and C are listed below. Participation in Serie D varies every year.

Serie A[edit]

Number of teams State Team(s)
4  São Paulo Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos, São Paulo
3  Rio de Janeiro Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense
 Santa Catarina Chapecoense, Criciúma, Figueirense
2  Bahia Bahia, Vitória
 Minas Gerais Atlético Mineiro, Cruzeiro
 Paraná Atlético Paranaense, Coritiba
 Rio Grande do Sul Grêmio, Internacional
1  Goiás Goiás
 Pernambuco Sport

Serie B[edit]

Number of teams State Team(s)
4  São Paulo Bragantino, Oeste, Ponte Preta and Portuguesa
2  Ceará Ceará and Icasa
 Goiás Atlético Goianiense and Vila Nova
 Minas Gerais América Mineiro and Boa Esporte
 Pernambuco Náutico and Santa Cruz
 Rio Grande do Norte ABC and América de Natal
 Santa Catarina Avaí and Joinville
1  Maranhão Sampaio Corrêa
 Mato Grosso Luverdense
 Paraná Paraná
 Rio de Janeiro Vasco da Gama

Serie C[edit]

Number of teams State Team(s)
4  São Paulo Guarani, Guaratingueta, Mogi Mirim and Sao Caetano
3  Rio de Janeiro Duque de Caxias, Macae and Madureira
2  Alagoas ASA and CRB
 Pará Aguia de Maraba and Paysandu
 Paraíba Botafogo-PB and Treze
 Rio Grande do Sul Caxias and Juventude
1  Ceará Fortaleza
 Goiás CRAC
 Mato Grosso Cuiaba
 Minas Gerais Tupi
 Pernambuco Salgueiro

State league pyramid examples[edit]

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.

Campeonato Paulista
Level League/Division
1 Série A1
20 clubs
2 Série A2
20 clubs
3 Série A3
20 clubs
4 Segunda Divisão
44 clubs


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.

Campeonato Catarinense
Level League/Division
1 Divisão Principal
12 clubs
2 Divisão Especial
12 clubs
3 Divisão de Acesso
9 clubs
4 Several Amateur Leagues
(closed)


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.

Campeonato Mineiro
Level League/Division
1 Módulo I
12 clubs
2 Módulo II
12 clubs
3 Segunda Divisão
? clubs


References[edit]

  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ "Carioca de 2008 tem fórmula e grupos definidos" (in Portuguese). Gazeta Esportiva. Archived from the original on January 15, 2008. Retrieved February 11, 2008. 

External links[edit]