A Clásico is a match between two rival teams in the world of football and there are plenty of them in el mundo hispano-hablante. Clásicos De Futbol is a monthly series that delves into the rivalry of a different set of teams. This month, we take a look at the rivalry between two of Brazilian soccer’s most famous institutions: Clube de Regatas do Flamengo and Fluminense Football Club.
The story begins in 1895 with the founding of Clube de Regatas do Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro. The clube, however, was not a futbol club but a rowing club! A group of young guys built the club in order to get laid. No, that’s not a joke: rowing was the elite sport back then in the late 19th century and the young founders of Flamengo wanted to impress a few of the local girls with their rowing abilities.
Fast forward to 1901. Trust fund English-Brazilian baby Oscar Cox returned home from his studies in Switzerland and immediately thrust this new-fangled sport of futbol onto his friends. He got a few friends together and they played the first official match in Rio de Janeiro. He founded Fluminense the following year and members of Flamengo’s rowing team joined Fluminense’s soccer team.
Everything was pretty chill up until 1911 when captain Alberto Borgerth got into an argument with some of the higher-ups in Fluminense. Borgerth left the team and nine other members of the team who were also rowers with Flamengo left with him. They immediately voted to create a football club within Flamengo and played their first official match on May 3, 1912 where they defeated Sport Club Mangueira 16 – 2.
The first match between Fluminense and its former players in Flamengo occurred two months later with Fluminense winning 3 – 2.
And, thus, a rivalry was born!
The rivalry, known as Fla-Flu (a term coined by Brazilian sports writer Mário Rodrigues Filho), is the most popular derby in Brazil along the same level as Barcelona/Real Madrid and Chivas/America.
As with those rivalries, Fla-Flu features two of the country’s most popular and most successful teams. Flamengo has won the Rio State Championship 32 times, the Brazilian National Championship five times as well as two Brazilian Cups and a Copa Libertadores title as well as an Intercontinental Cup title. Fluminense comes in second with 31 Rio State Championship wins, four Brazilian Championship titles, a single Brazilian Cup win and the Copa Rio and are also the current Série A champions.
The rivalry is even mentioned in Lamartine Babo’s unofficial Flamengo anthem, “Hino Do Flamengo.”
One of the most famous matches between the two in recent memory occurred on June 25th during the 1995 Campeonato Carioca. The tournament is played between teams from the state of Rio de Janeiro. That year’s final came down to another Fla-Flu derby at Maracanã stadium. Fluminense won the match thanks to a “gol de barriga” (belly goal) by Renato Gaúcho.
Gaúcho was waiting in the penalty box and deflected an oncoming shot from a teammate using his stomach to score the winning goal and Campeonato Carioca title. Flamengo settled for second place on their 100th anniversary.
RIVAL TEAMS, RIVAL BRANDS
The Fla-Flu rivalry extends off the field in a variety of ways including brand names. Fluminense currently has a deal with Adidas that will end in 2015. Rather than renew the deal, Adidas went and signed a new, 10-year deal with Flamengo. WHOOPS!!!
Fluminense’s hardcore fans from the Torcido Young Club launched the #FORAADIDAS campaign in response on May 10th: Today at 6pm, we will start the #FORAADIDAS campaign. Post photos on social networks showing your indignation with the company. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #FORAADIDAS.
Soon, gems such as these popped up all over twitter and instagram:
— vinicius netto (@viniciusnetto42) May 11, 2013
It all sounds silly at first until you realize that rival sports brands support rival teams as well. Nike sponsors Barcelona, Boca Juniors, and Monterrey while Adidas sponsors their rivals in Real Madrid, River Plate, and Tigres UANL, respectively. Plus, no brand in their right mind would have ever sponsored Celtic AND Rangers! O por el amor de Deus!