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Monday, January 30, 2023
HomeEconomyPanel SA: Santista, CEO of Suzano sees loss for humanity with Pelé's...

Panel SA: Santista, CEO of Suzano sees loss for humanity with Pelé’s death and defends SAF in Santos’ future

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The president of Suzano, Walter Schalka, who learned to be a Santos player in his childhood, taken by his father to Pelé’s games, felt the idol’s death as an “enormous loss for humanity”.

Today a member of Santos’ deliberative board, Schalka was one of the pillars of the club’s current management, commanded by Andres Rueda, who took over Santos’ presidency in 2021. The executive was a member of the management committee, a position he handed over in the first half for reasons professionals, but follow the advice.

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For the future of Santos, Schalka sees a strengthened team with regained credibility after an abyss in the accounts. “Santos had almost no credibility in the financial market and there was almost no possibility of raising capital. In those two years that President Rueda has been in charge of the administration, there has been a relevant financial recovery. competitive, but I believe that Santos has been preparing for the future”, he says.

According to the executive, the possible change in administrative management for the SAF (Sociedade Anônima de Futebol) is, conceptually, a good path, depending on the proposal. “The club is already discussing whether or not it wants to be an SAF and has recovered all of its credibility. On the field these last two years have not been good, but it is a process that Flamengo and Palmeiras went through and it paid off. It will be like that with Santos “, it says.

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In the debate over moving to SAF, he says several businesspeople from abroad have already expressed interest. “I’m not following it in detail because I’m no longer on the management committee, but I know that there have already been manifestations and interest in the SAF”, he says. The theme, which has already been approved by the deliberative council and by the partners, will be submitted again to them, if it has a firm proposal that is accepted by the management committee.

“This could be an alternative to put Santos back on another level. It is difficult to say that this will be the best alternative because Santos, unlike the clubs that have already become SAF, is not financially dependent. SAF was the last option for these clubs because they had no way to raise funds. With the financial recovery that the club had, this is no longer vital”, he says.

As mr. received the news of Pelé’s death? Did you have a close relationship with him? It is a huge loss for humanity. I had been following what was happening through the president of Santos. He knew it was an irreversible situation, that he was in palliative care, but he obviously had no idea about the medical part, of knowing when it would happen.

I met Pelé 20 years ago, but I was never intimate. I watched Pelé on the field for the first time in 1968. My father was a fanatic Santos fan and started taking me to see him play. It was an enormous pride to be able to assist him, to see not only the goals, but also the wonderful moves.

Did seeing him on the pitch motivate you to become a manager at Santos? There was no correlation. Pelé influenced me a lot as a fan, but as a manager, the only thing that influenced me was the quest to rescue a situation that Santos could or should have been in at the moment. Santos has gone through delicate moments in recent years. The two times I was at Santos were to try to take the team to a better level.

It is common in some moments of sport, when great icons die, for teams identified with that character to seek results that honor him. Do you think it will be like this with Santos next season? Pelé had a huge influence on the history of football at Santos and world football. Santos without Pelé would be something completely different. Brazil and Brazilian football too. It is worth remembering that the first World Cup that Brazil won was with Pelé at the age of 17.

Brazilian football was before and after Pelé. The prestige that Pelé brought to football in Brazil and Santos is unmentionable. He is the best known Brazilian in the world and he was a great ambassador for Brazil and Santos, which only exists in the dimension that exists today because of him. I hope that Santos has a modern management and manages to leverage its history for the Pelé issue.

Mr. left the Santos management committee this year. How is your relationship with the club? I’m on the deliberative council and I support the current president. From time to time I talk to him on the phone.

How are the discussions going for the next season? There has been an absurd financial recovery from the moment President Rueda took office until now. Santos’ situation was close to the precipice, very delicate. The club had six or seven FIFA bans [punição administrativa da Fifa pelo não pagamento de transferências de atletas] and had not paid the players for three months. There was a risk of losing them, as this is the limit that you can leave players without a salary.

Santos had almost no credibility in the financial market and there was almost no possibility of raising capital. In these two years that President Rueda has been in charge of the administration, there has been a significant financial recovery. Obviously, that didn’t lead to the possibility of having competitive teams, but I believe that Santos has been preparing for the future.

The board approved the change of statute and the change of the stadium, which will be world class, with significant changes in Vila Belmiro. The club is already discussing whether or not it wants to be a SAF and has regained all credibility. On the field these last two years have not been good, but it is a process that Flamengo and Palmeiras went through and it paid off. It will be like this with Santos.

What will Santos’ new stadium look like? The project proposes the demolition of the Vila, which will be rebuilt in a larger size and will become more modern. On April 14th, on Santos’ birthday, we will have the end of the executive project and the release of sales of chairs and cabins. With the inflow of these resources, the work should begin in August or September.

Is there any proposal from groups or entrepreneurs who want to participate in this change to SAF in Santos? Several foreign businessmen have already expressed interest. I am not following it in detail because I am no longer on the management committee, but I know that there have already been manifestations and interest in the SAF. This has already been approved both by the deliberative council and by the partners. If you have a firm proposal, which is accepted by the management committee, it will be submitted to the deliberative board and the partners.

This could be an alternative to put Santos back on another level. It is difficult to say that this will be the best alternative because Santos, unlike clubs that have already become SAF, is not financially dependent. SAF was the last option for these clubs because they had no way to raise funds. With the financial recovery that the club had, this is no longer vital.

The SAF, from a management point of view, became a late revolution for Brazilian clubs. Would that be positive for Santos? The team presidents, in most cases, are passionate about the clubs, but some of them do not have administrative conditions or management morals. We had serious cases in these two examples, of unpreparedness or of people who used the club. With SAF you solve this issue. I defend the SAF not only for the financial issue, but to give sustainability and perpetuity to the club.

So your vote for the SAF would be a ‘yes’? It wouldn’t be for any proposal, but conceptually I support the SAF.


X-ray

With a degree in aeronautical engineering from ITA (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica) and a postgraduate degree from FGV, IMD and Harvard Business School, the executive has been CEO of Suzano since 2013 and served as CEO of Votorantim Cimentos between 2005 and 2012.

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