Tuesday, June 3, 2014
As Fluminense officials signed an historic letter, making public what the two clubs have known privately for months, the Tri-Colours – known in Brazil as ‘the Warriors’ – simultaneously released a statement on the club’s official website to confirm that they will play Exeter City at Laranjeiras Stadium on July 20, marking the 100 years of the Brazilian National team’s first ever match at the same stadium in 1914, writes Richard Dorman.
Dilson Motta, Fluminense’s commercial manager and pictured second left, signed the letter. It reads: “It is with great joy that Fluminense FC is welcoming Exeter City’s first team, board members and fans, to celebrate the Brazilian National Team 100 years anniversary. It is an honor to have your Club in our Stadium again, this time to remember the historical legacy that both institutions proudly built together – to give life to the ‘Seleção’ and to change football’s history permanently. Kindest regards from your brothers in history.”
The Fluminense team will be an extremely strong side comprised of their multi-title and tournament-winning Under-21 group, plus additional first team squad members, and will present a formidable challenge to City’s predominantly young and inexperienced team.
The match will kick off at 10.30am local time in Rio de Janeiro before a privately invited audience, including the Minister of State for the Foreign Office, Hugo Swire, and will be limited in size to just 600 due to the fact that Laranjeiras is not a functioning public arena anymore.
The historic and atmospheric stadium is at the heart of the private multi-sport members club that Fluminense is and these days is used solely for first team training and behind-closed-doors practice matches. The atmosphere will be unique as Laranjeiras has changed little since 1914 with the stadium and surroundings retaining a wonderful sense of history and timelessness.
The match will kick off with the original ball from the 1914 game between Exeter City and Brazil, which currently sits as a feature in a dedicated area of the superb museum that Fluminense has incorporated into the Laranjeiras main building.
Amongst the crowd for this extraordinary occasion will be the 130 City fans that will be travelling with the club’s official groups and with an official entry voucher. The group will be guests at pre- and post-match receptions at the complex and treated to a tour of the club and the museum as well as being a part of an official souvenir photograph to mark the historic day.
It is hoped, depending on the venue available at the time, that later that same day the Exeter City team will be presented to the crowd at the Brazilian league fixture between Fluminense and Santos. That match is due to be played at the Maracanã Stadium, but as of now this will still be under post-World Cup FIFA control pending hand over back to the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) and acceptance of the stadium’s condition by the stadium’s owners. The only other suitable stadium in the city is currently closed for safety reasons and there is the possibility currently that the Fluminense v Santos game will be played elsewhere in Rio State.
Any persons planning to travel privately and who haven’t already ensured that they are in possession of a formal club entrance voucher to the game should contact Exeter City Football Club immediately. Fans should also note that there is absolutely no point to approach Fluminense directly for an entrance invitation. There will be none available from that source and Exeter City fans will be only be accepted as part of the official Exeter City group. It should also be noted that Laranjeiras is a private members’ club, more than adequately set up to allow access only to club members and invited guests. On the day of the 20th, entrance to the stadium will be strictly monitored and Exeter City can take no responsibility for fans without invitations not being able to access the match.
When looking to arrange a schedule of additional fixtures, the club has had of course to be mindful of the need to show respect to our hosts, Fluminense, plus the fact that July is a busy part of the league season in Brazil with clubs at all levels heavily involved in a host of weekend and mid-week league and cup games.
However, Exeter City is due to have confirmation of a further game in Juiz de Fora, against Tupi FC, who play in the third division of the Brazilian national league and are also in discussions with Madureiras, the Rio-based club, founded in August 1914 and also playing in the third division of the national league. Talks are also on-going with Grêmio Esportivo Brasil, another third division club which plays in the South of Brazil. Overall, City are confident that a finalised schedule of games and venues will be available this month.
City fans should also note that from a base of a long-running dialogue, conversations have now reached a serious stage with the CBF and our official club representatives and that the CBF has intimated the possibility of a match against a Brazilian Olympic XI to celebrate the historic 100 year link. Such a match cannot be in any way guaranteed given that the CBF is currently in the run up to the World Cup, which has naturally always been its major priority in the last few years. (A period that has seen two changes of Presidency, one change of national team coach and a change of the official agency with the rights to stage matches for the national team at home and abroad). However, the matter continues to be discussed on a daily basis and the CBF continues to respond positively and cordially.
During their stay, City will have use of the Fluminense Academy facilities at Xerém, a beautifully-sited venue in the hills outside of Rio, and have the chance to include matches against Fluminense’s Under-19s as part of the training activities. City will also use the wonderfully equipped University facilities at Juiz de Fora, in Minas Gerais State. The university, ranked in the top 10 in Brazil, plays host to many international volleyball, basketball, handball and athletic squads, which use it as a base for pre-international tournament training.
As part of the training schedule, the City squad will do as the major Rio clubs do and make use of the beach facilities in Rio for training at some point. It is also planned to stage a full game on the sand against a Rio Beach League Selection, probably the sternest test the Grecians would face during the entire tour as anyone familiar with the skill and fitness levels shown on the beaches of Rio by the world masters of this form of the game will confirm.
All of the above and the entire history making tour will not cost Exeter City thanks to a combination of sponsors, match income shares and other income earning streams planned post tour including a DVD of the tour and illustrated tour diary in limited edition book form. City will also consider the potential to use the subsequently raised profile of the club to grow the club’s brand on a wider world front in future and how the association with Fluminense can be further developed for mutual playing and financial benefit.