It is impossible to think of Brazil and not relate it to one of the country's largest passions: soccer. Holder of five FIFA World Cup trophies and the land of countless great players, Brazil has held its fame throughout the years, and in 2014 will be the host of a World Cup for the second time. Learn in this article about the 36 largest soccer teams of the Brazil.
According to a law project that intends to fund soccer teams, Brazil has 501 professional teams registered at CBF or Confederação Brasileira de Futebol, the Brazilian Soccer Confederation, plus 13,000 amateur teams in activity. The estimate is that there are 30 million people playing the sport, with 11,000 of them being federate players and 2,000 people playing abroad. Brazil also has 308 stadiums that reach 5 million seats - 12 of them which have been or are still being restored for the 2014 international competition.
There are state championships in all of the 27 Brazilian federate units. All of them have the first division, while some of them also have a second and a third divisions. São Paulo is the only state that has four divisions. The Brazilian National Soccer Championship, known as Brasileirão, was created in 1971, and also has four divisions, each one encompassing 20 clubs. Each division is called “Série”, with the first division called "Série A", the second "Série B", the third "Série C" and the fourth "Série D".
The 36 Largest Clubs
There may be different ways of considering how large a team is - by the number of titles it conquered, by how much money it has, and so on. For this list of the 36 largest soccer teams in Brazil, we considered the number of supporters they have throughout the country, based on the latest research by Pluri Consultoria.
In 2012, CBF unified the list of national champions with the titles of two other competitions: Taça Brasil and Torneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa, both organized before 1971. This measure increased the number of national titles of each team, for instance putting Palmeiras with eight national titles, even though they have only won four Brazilian championships.
It's important to notice that the following teams have conquered several other titles of different competitions, some of which are still being played and others that were abolished.
36 - Chapecoense: 64,000 fans
Associação Chapecoense de Futebol is a club based in the city of Chapecó, in Santa Catarina, and founded in 1973. It has won the Santa Catarina state championship four times and in 2013, it guaranteed for the first time its participation in the first division of the Brazilian championship.
35 - América-MG: 68,000 fans
América Futebol Clube is a club based in the city of Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais state. It’s known as América Mineiro, as there are other teams named América in other states of Brazil, and it was founded in 1912. It won 15 Minas Gerais state championships and also holds a title of the second and third divisions of Brazilian championship.
34 - América-RN 78,000 fans
Also named América Futebol Clube, this club is based in the city of Natal, in Rio Grande do Sul state - therefore being known as América de Natal. It was founded in 1915 and has 33 titles of the Rio Grande do Norte state championship.
33 - CSA: 85,000 fans
CSA or Centro Sportivo Alagoano is a club of Maceió city, in Alagoas state. Founded in 1913, it has 37 titles of the Alagoas state championship.
32 - ABC 103,000 fans
ABC or ABC Futebol Clube is a club from the city of Natal, in Rio Grande do Norte. Founded in 1915, it’s the oldest club of the state and has a title from the third division of the Brazilian championship.
31 - CRB 111,000 fans
CRB or Clube de Regatas Brasil is another club of Maceió city, and main rival of CSA. Founded in 1912, it's known as "Galo" (rooster), and has conquered 27 Alagoas state championships.
30 - Criciúma: 122,000 fans
Criciúma Esporte Clube was club founded in 1947 in the city of Criciúma, in the state of Santa Catarina. It has conquered 10 Santa Catarina state championships, one second division and one third division Brazilian championships.
Criciúma had a revenue of BRL 20 million in 2012, slightly lower compared to the revenue of 2011, which was of BRL 22 million.
29 - Portuguesa: 138,000 fans
The Associação Portuguesa de Desportos is a club from São Paulo city, founded in 1920 by the Portuguese population. Known as Portuguesa or Lusa, it was the joint of five already existing clubs. Its mascot is a lion and its colours are green, red and white. It has won five São Paulo state championships and one second division Brazilian championship.
Portuguesa had a revenue of BRL 50 million in 2012, 72% higher than the one from the previous year of BRL 29 million.
28 - Joinville: 172,000 fans
Joinville, JEC or Joinville Esporte Clube is a team based in the city of Joinville, in Santa Catarina. It was founded in 1976 and resulted from a fusion of the soccer departments of América Futebol Clube (former team based in Santa Catarina) and Caxias Futebol Clube. It has conquered 12 titles of the Santa Catarina state championship and one title of the third division of Brazilian championship.
27 - Atlético-GO: 182,000 fans
Atlético Clube Goianiense is based in the city of Goiânia, in Goiás. Founded in 1937, it's the oldest club of the city. Known as Atlético Goianiense, it won the Goiás state championship 12 times, apart from winning once the second and third divisions of the Brazilian championship.
26 - Paraná: 317,000 fans
Paraná Clube is a club based in the city of Curitiba, in Paraná state. It was also founded from the fusion of two other soccer clubs, the Colorado Esporte Clube and the Esporte Clube Pinheiros, in 1989. It has won seven Paraná state championships, plus a second division Brazilian championship.
25 - Figueirense: 424,000 fans
Figueirense Futebol Clube is based in the city of Florianópolis, in Santa Catarina. Founded in 1921, it has conquered 15 Santa Catarina state championships. It had a total revenue of BRL 41 million in 2012, slightly higher than the BRL 40 million registered in 2011.
24 - Avaí: 496,000 fans
Avaí Futebol Clube is another one based in the city of Florianópolis, in Santa Catarina. Founded in 1923, it has the larger number of fans in the state. Avaí has conquered 16 Santa Catarina state championships, and a third division Brazilian championship. In 2012, the club had a revenue of BRL 23 million, which was 33% lower than 2011's revenue of BRL 34 million.
23 - Vila Nova: 590,000 fans
Vila Nova Futebol Clube is another club based in the city of Goiânia, in Goiás. Nicknamed "the tigers" due to its mascot, it was founded in 1943 and has conquered 15 Goiás state championships and a third division Brazilian championship.
22 - Goiás: 847,000 fans
Goiás Esporte Clube is the third club based in the city of Goiânia, and it's the one with the largest number of supporters in the state. Founded in 1943, it has won 24 Goiás state championships and two second division Brazilian championships.
Goiás had a total revenue of BRL 48 million in 2012, which was 185% more than the BRL 17 million registered in 2011. Of this amount, 74% is represented by television quotas.
21 - Náutico: 882,000 fans
Clube Náutico Capibaribe is a club based in the city of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco. Founded in 1901, it has conquered 21 titles of the Pernambuco state championship. Náutico had a total revenue of BRL 4 million in 2012, 114% higher than the BRL 19 million of 2011. Only television quotas are responsible for 61% of this amount.
20 - Fortaleza: 909,000 fans
Fortaleza Esporte Clube is a club based in the city of Fortaleza, in Ceará state. Founded in 1918, its mascot is also a lion and the club is known for being the "tricolor de aço", or iron tricolour. It has conquered 39 titles of the Ceará state championship.
19 - Ceará: 1,094,000 fans
Ceará Sporting Club is another club based in Fortaleza, in Ceará, founded in 1914. The local derby between Fortaleza and Ceará is called "Clássico-Rei", which would be the most important derby of the region. Ceará club won 42 Ceará state championships.
18 - Coritiba: 1,107,000 fans
Coritiba Foot Ball Club is based in the city of Curitiba, in Paraná. Founded in 1909, it has 37 Paraná state championships, one title from the first division of the Brazilian championship and two titles from the second division.
Coritiba had a revenue of BRL 82 million in 2012, 25% higher than the BRL 66 million of 2011. Television quotas are responsible for 29% of the amount, and other 29% were due to club membership and amateur sport.
17 - Atlético-PR 1,237,000 fans
Clube Atlético Paranaense, known as Atlético Paranaense, is another Brazilian club based in Curitiba, Paraná. Founded in 1924, its nickname is "furacão", or "hurricane" in English. It has conquered 22 Paraná state championships, one first division title of the Brazilian championship and another title of the second division. The club had a revenue of BRL 187 million in 2012, 201% higher compared to the BRL 62 million of 2011.
16 - Santa Cruz: 1,429,000 fans
Santa Cruz Futebol Clube is another club based in the city of Recife, in Pernambuco. Founded in 1914, it has 27 titles from the Pernambuco state championships. It's know as the "tricolor pernambucano", for its three colours - black, white and red.
15 - Vitória: 2,130,000 fans
Esporte Clube Vitória is a club based in the city of Salvador, in Bahia. It was founded in 1899 as a cricket club, which adopted soccer in 1901 and had its first soccer match in 1902. It has won 27 Bahia state championships and it's the main rival of Bahia club.
Vitória had a total revenue of BRL 52 million in 2012, 53% higher than in 2011, when it was BRL 34 million. 65% of the amount is due to television quotas.
14 - Sport: 2,300,000 fans
Sport Club do Recife is a club based in the city of Recife, in Pernambuco. It was founded in 1905 and has already won 39 Pernambuco state championships. Sport is considered the official winner of the Brazilian championship of 1987 - a title that is also claimed by Flamengo. The Recife club has also won a second division Brazilian championship.
Sport had a revenue of BRL 75 million in 2012, 77% higher than the BRL 42 million in 2011.
13 - Bahia 2,541,000 fans
Esporte Clube Bahia is a club based in the city of Salvador, in Bahia. Known as "tricolor baiano" due to its blue, red and white colours, it was founded in 1931 and has won 44 Bahia state championships and a first division Brazilian championship. It’s main rival is Vitória, and the match between both clubs is known as Ba-Vi.
Bahia's revenue in 2012 was BRL 66 million, 81% higher compared to 2011, when the amount was BRL 36 million. 43% of this revenue comes from television quotas.
12 - Fluminense: 2,897,000 fans
Fluminense Football Club is based in Rio de Janeiro, in the neighbourhood of Laranjeiras. Founded in 1902, it is one of the oldest clubs in activity in Brazil. It’s known as the “tricolor carioca” for having three colours (white, maroon and green) and for being a Rio team. Fluminense won four Brazilian championships and 31 Rio de Janeiro's state ones.
The club had a total revenue of BRL 151 million in 2012, 89% than in the previous years, when the team received BRL 80 million. Television quotas were responsible for 35% of that amount, and 34% corresponded to player transfers.
11 - Botafogo: 2,904,000 fans
Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas is also based in Rio de Janeiro state, in the neighbourhood of Botafogo. Founded in 1904, it is known as one of the four “big teams” of Rio de Janeiro, alongside Fluminense, Vasco and Flamengo. It used to have a dog as a mascot, but since 1957 it also has the symbol of the statue of a boy urinating - a replication of the Brussels landmark Manneken Pis.
Botafogo had a 10% increase in its revenue from 2011 to 2012, varying from BRL 58 million to BRL 122 million. Of these, 38% came from television quotas, while 29% came from player transfers.
It’s important to notice that some of the teams were not founded as soccer clubs. It’s the case of Botafogo, Vasco and Flamengo, which were already known for being rowing clubs.
10 - Atlético-MG: 4,776,000 fans
Clube Atlético Mineiro, or simply Atlético Mineiro, is a club based in the city of Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais. Also known as "Galo", it was founded in 1908 and it's the biggest winner of the Minas Gerais state, with 42 titles. It has won a Brazilian championship and a Copa Libertadores de América too.
Atlético Mineiro had a total revenue of BRL 162 million in 2012, an increase of 63% compared to the BRL 99 million of 2011. 54% of this amount was provided by television quotas.
9 - Santos: 5,505,000 fans
Santos Futebol Clube is a club based in the coastal city of Santos, in São Paulo state. Commonly known as "peixe" (fish), it has a whale as a mascot. Founded in 1912, it is considered one of the four big teams in São Paulo, having won eight titles of the Brazilian championship, 19 of the São Paulo state championship, three of Copa Libertadores da América and two of Intercontinental Cups. Santos is the club that revealed Pelé, considered the greatest player of all time.
In 2012, the club's revenue was of BRL 197 million, BRL 8 million higher than in the previous year. 45% of this amount was due to television quotas.
8 - Internacional: 6,064,000 fans
Sport Club Internacional is a club based in the city of Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul. Founded in 1909, it's nickname is "Colorado", due to its colour: red. Internacional has won 41 Rio Grande do Sul state championships, plus three Brazilian championships, two Copa Libertadores da América and one FIFA Teams World Cup.
Internacional's revenue in 2012 was of BRL 252 million, 28% higher than in 2011, when it was of BRL 198 million. Of these, 35% came from television quotas and 29% from player transfers.
7 - Cruzeiro: 6,867,000 fans
Cruzeiro Esporte Clube is a club based in the city of Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais. It was founded in 1921 by an Italian community and used to be called Società Sportiva Palestra Italia. The club had to have its name changed after a decree-law established during the Second World War prohibited the use of names that referred to Italy in institutions or establishments in Brazil. Cruzeiro was considered the best Brazilian team of the 20th century by IFFHS, the International Federation of Football History & Statistics.
They have conquered three Brazilian championships and 36 Minas Gerais state championships, besides two Copa Libertadores da América. In 2012, their revenue was of BRL 120 million, a bit lower than the BRL 108 million registered in the previous year.
6 - Grêmio: 7,008,000 fans
Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense is the largest team in the city of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. Founded in 1903, it is known as the "tricolor gaúcho", for its three colours - black, white and blue - and for being from Rio Grande do Sul. Its mascot is a musketeer. Grêmio has won 36 state championships, two Brazilian championships and one second division Brazilian championship. It also has two Copa Libertadores da América titles, and a Intercontinental Cup.
The team's revenue in 2012 was of BRL 233 million, an increase of 63% compared to 2011. Of this amount, 37% is composed by television quotas, while club membership and amateur sport represent 20%.
5 - Vasco: 9,148,000 fans
Clube de Regatas Vasco da Gama is based in the city of Rio de Janeiro. It was founded in 1898 and has as mascot an admiral, as an honour to the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama. It has won 22 Rio de Janeiro state championships, four Brazilian championships and one second division Brazilian championship, besides one Copa Libertadores da América.
In 2012 it had a revenue of BRL 139 million, 2 million higher compared to 2011. Television quotas represented 41% of this amount, while player transfers corresponded to 22%.
4 - Palmeiras: 12,827,000 fans
Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras is one of the four big teams of the city of São Paulo. It was founded in 1914 and named Società Sportiva Palestra Italia, just like the previous name of Cruzeiro. It also had to have its name changed because of the law established during the Second World War. Its mascot is a pig and its colour is green. Palmeiras has won 22 São Paulo state championships, eight Brazilian championships, two second division Brazilian championships and one Copa Libertadores da América.
Palmeiras revenue in 2012 was of BRL 241 million, 63% higher compared to the previous year, when the total was of BRL 148 million. Television quotas composed 31% of this amount, while publicity was responsible for 18%.
3 - São Paulo: 16,902,000 fans
São Paulo Futebol Clube is the second largest team of São Paulo state in terms of supporters. It is known as "tricolor paulista", due to it's three colours: black, white and red, and for being a São Paulo’s state club. Its mascot is the saint Paul. It’s the team known for conquering the largest amount of well-known trophies: six national championships, three Libertadores and two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup.
São Paulo had a total revenue of BRL 282 million in 2012, 25% more than in 2011, when it had BRL 226 million. Television quotas are responsible for 40% of this amount, while publicity counts with 4%.
2 - Corinthians: 26,235,000 fans
Largest club in São Paulo state, Sport Club Corinthians Paulista was founded in 1910. It is known for having one of the loudest and most passionate supporters in Brazil, and because of this, they are named “Fiel” or “faithful” in English. It’s colours are black and white and it’s mascot is also the musketeer. Corinthians won five Brazilian championships and 27 São Paulo state championships.
Corinthians had the largest revenue of 2012, totalling BRL 358 million, 23% more than the BRL 290 million registered in 2011. Of this amount, 43% is due to television quotas, while publicity is responsible for 18%.
1 - Flamengo: 30,499,000 fans
Clube de Regatas do Flamengo is based in Rio de Janeiro, and founded in 1895. It's colours are red and black and it's mascot is a vulture. Officially Flamengo won five Brazilian National Championships. However, the team also claims that the Brazilian championship of 1987 was conquered by them - even though Sport is the club recognized by CBF as the champion. Flamengo also won 32 Rio de Janeiro state championship titles.
In 2012 Flamengo had a total revenue of BRL 212 million, 15% more than in 2011, when it was of BRL 185 million. At least 49% of this revenue came from television quotas, while 22% originated from sponsorship and publicity. Flamengo’s matches, as well as Corinthians’, are one of the most broadcasted in Brazilian television, and it has double the amount of supporters of its three main local rivals combined: Vasco, Botafogo and Fluminense.