Brazilian football 4
A fake birth certificate
Medeiros says that the club goes to extreme lengths to avoid age cheating, often used by players desperate for a chance. Some players, with the help of friends or family, will produce a birth certificate stating they are several years below their real age so they can jump down one or two age categories and compete against players much younger than themselves.
Former Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo admitted several years ago that he had used a fake birth certificate when he was an apprentice with Botafogo, cutting three years of his age. Last years, Corinthians midfielder Carlos Alberto admitted to cutting five years of his real age. “We always double-check a player’s identity,” said Madeiros. “Somewhere along the line, they will have slipped up so we check other information, such as their enrolments in primary schools.”
Most of the trainees live locally but up to 60 from other parts of the country are giving lodging. The club offers courses and advice to delegations from other countries. Recent visitors include the Tanzanian national side and a group of coaches from Suriname.
“This has been an excellent experience for us,” said former player and coach Andy Atmodimejo from the Suriname delegation, whose country has produced plenty of talented players only to see them emigrate to the Netherlands. “We don’t have anything comparable to this in our country.”
Xerem costs around BRL 120,000 (USD 60,000) to run but Medeiro says the investment is more than worthwhile. “If the club can sell one Marcelo, it pays for Xerem for another six years,” he said.
When Brazil won their fourth World Cup in 1994, they relied on the diminutive Romario in attack, partnered by Bebeto. Last year Adriano lined up alongside Ronaldo in an attack which weighed a total of 168 kilos, while only nine members of Brazil’s 23-man squad were under 1.80 meters. Fluminense, however, say they still place the emphasis on the technical side, to which around 70 per cent of training time is devoted.