December 6 – On a dramatic last day of the season in Brazil, Palmeiras won a second consecutive title following a 1-1 draw with Cruzeiro while Santos were relegated for the first time in their history following a 2-1 defeat to Fortaleza.
In their 111-year history, Santos had never been relegated from the Brazilian top flight, a proud record the club held together with Flamengo and Sao Paulo, but on Wednesday Pelé’s former club were condemned to the Serie B after losing to Fortaleza.
Santos’ defeat in combination with Serginho’s late goal for Vasco da Gama against Bragantino ensured that the Rio club, owned by 777, remain in the Serie A. America Mineiro, Coritiba and Goias had already been relegated.
“A bad historic night,” said Santos’ director of football Alexandre Gallo. “The first thing we have to do is apologise, with great humility, because we are a club of this size, with this shirt, this weight, we know that it is something that really impacts us. We didn’t expect this to happen.”
The club’s relegation stirred tension in the port city as a bus and multiple cars were set on fire.
This week Santos will elect a new president as it embarks on a new journey in Serie B. Santos remain Brazil’s most recognisable club, rising to global fame because of Pelé’s presence in the 60s. They twice won the Copa Libertadores with Pelé and toured the globe to play tournaments and exhibition matches.
An hour away in Sao Paulo, Palmeiras’ fans celebrated a 12th title for their club after the team secured a draw away to Cruzeiro. Gremio, Atletico Mineiro and Flamengo pick up the other three Copa Libertadores tickets. In fifth, Botafogo will need to navigate the qualifiers first.
The Rio club dominated much of the season, top off the standings for 31 of 38 rounds, but collapsed spectacularly in the final stretch, squandering a 13-point lead and losing twice 4-3 at the hands of Palmeiras and Gremio respectively.
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