Neto Alencar, president of Rio Branco, Acre, got tired of the demands. Every week he heard requests from players and fans to make a fundraising campaign, with money used to pay an award to the squad. An incentive.
When the team qualified for the round of 16 of the Brazilian Series D, the requests became stronger. The leader gave in.
“Okay. If that’s what you want, let’s do it,” he warned.
A few days later, Rio Branco launched the “Solidarity Pix” campaign. Contributions could be made directly to the club’s checking account.
Before the 0-0 draw with ASA de Arapiraca, in the first leg, last Sunday (7), Alencar fulfilled his promise and handed over the amount raised to the athletes: R$ 208. Each of the 25 players received R$ 8.32.
“They saw it and asked me: that’s all? I said yes. I had warned that it wouldn’t work. I know the crowd. But they asked me to do it so much, which I did. They were disappointed, of course”, says the president.
Alencar used Rio Branco’s Instagram account to give an account of the vaquinha’s failure.
“Unfortunately the campaign was not successful,” he warned, in a video posted on the social network. Then she started thanking the donors one by one.
“Carlos Alberto Farias deposited R$3.20…”, he began. There were nine people who contributed.
This Sunday (14), Rio Branco will play the return game of the round of 16, in Alagoas. Whoever wins, qualifies. Draw leads to penalty shootout.
The story of the failed fundraising campaign illustrates the difficulty of funding football in the lower grades of Brazilian football. Even more so in a team from Acre, with a monthly salary of R$ 60 thousand. Alencar’s assessment is that there are rivals in D that spend up to R$500,000 every 30 days with the cast.
“We basically live with the rent of stores that belong to the club in front of the Training Center and the money from the president’s company. When it’s lacking, I have to complete it”, explains the entrepreneur who owns a mineral water brand in the state.
Alencar’s scolding is not with the fans. He knew the fundraiser would go nowhere. A few months ago he had campaigned to sell uniforms at popular prices. Already suspecting that demand would not be that great, he had 100 made. He sold 25.
“I know the Rio Branco fans well. The only advantage when these things happen is to be able to talk about them when someone comes to ask for a signing, says they lack a striker… When it comes time to help, nobody wants to.”
The top hat’s anger is with the political authorities of the Acre capital. For Alencar, the two should help Rio Branco financially and would have made promises in this regard.
For him, it is ironic that now, with the club in the knockout stage of Serie D, requests for tickets to games and requests for photos have appeared. It’s an election year.
“Sport, especially at the grassroots, is social inclusion. Acre is part of the triple border [Brasil, Peru e Bolívia], has a serious problem of crime and drug trafficking that mainly affects 14 and 15 year olds. Investing in sport would help start to change that. Now at the games there are politicians who want to come take a picture with me. Senator, governor… Do you want to take a picture with me now for what?”, he asks.
Acre has never had a team in the top division in the country. Not even in the late 1970s, when the Brazilian was so swollen that it had more than 90 teams. But on the national scene, the most successful association in the state is Rio Branco.
In 1997, he won the Copa Norte and in the following season he played in the Copa Conmebol. No club in the region had ever participated in a South American competition. In 1989, he played in the Brazilian Series B.
Neto Alencar calls Rio Branco a “sleeping giant”.
But he is a poor giant. To compete in Série D, CBF pays for plane tickets and accommodation. Meals for athletes at airports, food supplements and other expenses are borne by Alencar. It’s about R$2,500 per match.
To satisfy his players, after the failed fundraising campaign, the president took the R$10,411.92 from the net income from the match against the ASA and divided it among them.
“I think it was R$ 400 more or less for each one. It was enough for them to go to the bar for a cold one.”
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