By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – According to a poll made by the Datafolha research institute, Flamengo’s fan base has increased its numbers by 6 percent in the city of Rio de Janeiro, meaning that nearly half of all Carioca soccer fans support the red and black shirt.
The research shows that Flamengo’s fan base in the Marvelous City grew from 43 percent of Rio’s soccer fans in 2007 to an amazing 49 percent in 2009. The most obvious reason for this rise is the great performance Flamengo put on through the last three years, claiming the state championships of 2007, 2008 and 2009 and the 2009 Brasileirão National Championship.
The increased fan base further broadens the gap in popularity between Flamengo and the other three big carioca teams: Vasco da Gama, Fluminense and Botafogo.
Vasco showed the worst performance in the poll. In 2007, the São Januário-based team held the support of 18 percent of Rio de Janeiro’s soccer fans, making it the second biggest fan base in the city. In 2009, this share had reduced to 13 percent. The main reason for the decline in support is the Vasco’s 2008 relegation to Série B. Had the team not successfully fought its way back to Série A in 2009, the reduction in fan base could have been more dramatic still.
According to the poll, Botafogo and Fluminense shyly increased their fan bases during the period, almost reaching the same level of popularity as Vasco. In 2007, 9 percent of Rio de Janeiro’s soccer fans rooted for Botafogo’s black and white shirt.
By 2009, this number had increased to 12 percent following the good performance of the team in the state championships where they played in the finals for three years running, although were defeated by Flamengo each time. Botafogo’s valiant fight against relegation in the final stages of the 2009 Brasileirão was another factor in increased public attention for the team.
Fluminense’s fan base has increased by only one percent, according to the poll. In 2007, the Laranjeiras-based team had 11 percent of Rio’s soccer fans, but after the team’s good campaign in the 2008 Libertadores and 2009 Copa Sul-Americana international competitions (Fluminense was second in both of them) and the miraculous escape from relegation in 2009, this number has grown to 12 percent, the same amount as Botafogo, only one percent less than Vasco.
In the state of Rio de Janeiro the numbers differ slightly, with Flamengo’s supremacy further marked : In 2007, Flamengo had 46 percent of the share, and in 2009 this number had grown to 51 percent. Vasco’s share of the Rio soccer fan base fell from 16 to 13 percent. Fluminense’s fans grew from 9 to 10 percent, while Botafogo’s numbers remained at nine per cent.
In the national poll, Flamengo leads with 19 percent of the whole country’s soccer fans, rising from 17 percent in 2008. The second biggest fan base of Brazil belongs to the Paulista team Corinthians, with 13 percent of the country’s fans.