Soccer world in shock as Pele's former club Santos relegated for first time in 111-year history

A 2-1 home defeat by Fortaleza in their final league match of the season meant they dropped out of Serie A, Brazil's top flight football league

By Reuters

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Soccer great Pele match-issued 1956 Santos Jersey is displayed at the media preview for of Julien's 'Sports Legends' auction, June 19, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. - AFP
Soccer great Pele match-issued 1956 Santos Jersey is displayed at the media preview for of Julien's "Sports Legends" auction, June 19, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. - AFP

Published: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 9:35 PM

Pele's former club Santos were relegated for the first time in their 111-year history on Wednesday following a 2-1 home loss to Fortaleza in the final round of Brazil's Serie A.

The costal city team were one of three clubs, along with Sao Paulo and Flamengo, never to have been relegated from Brazil's top flight but a woeful run of five games without a victory saw them drop to 17th in the standings with 43 points.

America Mineiro, Coritiba and Goias had already been assured of relegation from the 20-team division.

City Football Group-owned Bahia secured their top-flight status with a resounding 4-1 win over Atletico Mineiro, while Vasco da Gama stayed out of the drop zone with a 2-1 win over Bragantino.

Santos had looked set to stave off relegation when they stood level at 1-1 with Fortaleza in the second half and with Vasco being held 1-1 by Bragantino.

However, Serginho's goal for Vasco in the 82nd minute and a stoppage-time goal from Fortaleza's Lucero condemned the three-times Copa Libertadores champions to relegation in front of their frustrated home fans.

At the other end of the table, Endrick, who is set to join Real Madrid in July, scored in the 21st minute to help Palmeiras to a 1-1 draw at Cruzeiro that secured back-to back championships and a record-extending 12th title.

Late Brazilian great Pele helped Santos become one of the most famous clubs in world football, the side enjoying a golden era in the 1950s and 1960s that saw them win 10 state and six Brazilian league titles.

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They also lifted the Copa Libertadores, South America's equivalent of the Champions League, in 1962 and 1963, the same years won they won the Intercontinental Cup, the trophy played for by the top teams from Europe and South America.

In addition to Pele, Santos has produced a host of outstanding players such as former AC Milan striker Robinho, Brazil's top scorer Neymar and Real Madrid forward Rodrygo.


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