Calendar clash: Tite underfire from clubs as he calls up domestic players for Brazil’s Asian friendlies

By Samindra Kunti

September 23 – Brazil coach Tite has called up seven home-based players for the October friendlies against Nigeria and Senegal, reigniting the debate about Brazil’s club and international calendar. 

Tite included goalkeepers Weverton (Palmeiras) and Aderbar Santos (Athletico Paranaense), Matheus Henrique and Everton (Grêmio), Daniel Alves (São Paulo) and Rodrigo Caio and Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo) in his 23-man squad for warm-up games in Singapore against West African opposition next month. As a result, the seven-home based players will miss the 24th and 25th round of the Brazilian topflight.

This is bad news for league leaders Flamengo, runners-up Palmeiras, and Gremio, who, like the Rio club, are still in contention in the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League. In total, Flamengo could miss up to six players during the international break with Giorgian De Arrascaeta and Orlando Berrío selected for Uruguay and Colombia respectively and Piris da Motta a potential inclusion in the Paraguayan squad.

On Friday, Brazil also called up their U-17 World Cup squad for the tournament on home soil later this year and their Olympic squad, raising the number of home-based players in the national teams to 18. The players at youth level will miss a far greater stretch of the domestic league, but Tite and the CBF were not willing to cede much ground. Tite had previously indicated that he’d only call up one player per Brazilian club for the October trip to Asia.

“There is another side to the issue,” said Tite. “The team, the preparation, those that are called up I know it’s hard to understand, but we have to deliver performance and results. This requires preparation. I have maximum fairness, care and common sense.”

“Incidentally, the calendar is not from the CBF. It’s from the clubs too. It’s much more decisive in the Brazilian Cup than in a league. There are controversies, there are situations that can be defended on both sides. Each one looks for the situation that they think is best.”

After his club’s 2-1 win at Cruzeiro on Saturday, Flamengo’s Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus said that he didn’t understand Tite’s decision. “We will lose the called up players for Brazil and Arrascaeta,” said Jesus. “Complicated moment. I don’t quite understand. They had said that only one player per team would go. In Argentina, the coach was careful not to select [players] from Boca and River. Here, it is more important to play against Senegal and Nigeria.”

The discussion between club and country boils down to Brazil’s dysfunctionally organised calendar. The current organisation of the calendar appears to suit no one, except the local state federations, who hold the balance of power inside the CBF. Each season from January to March, state championships are played out across Brazil. The structure forces big clubs into a calendar and commercial model that doesn’t help their interests, playing small and meaningless games that in turn kill off the appetite for the national top flight. There is never a pause in Brazil and the convoluted calendar ignores FIFA dates. The top flight simply plays on, often resulting in conflicts between the CBF and the clubs that become exacerbated during the business end of the season.

The CBF also received criticism for the choice of venue and the opponents in October, but negotiations with both Denmark and Germany for friendlies in Europe broke down over contrasting priorities in the match calendar. It means the Brazilians won’t meet European opposition until 2022, the year Qatar stages the next World Cup. Next March, the South American qualifiers for that tournament kick off.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1582857628labto1582857628ofdlr1582857628owedi1582857628sni@o1582857628fni1582857628