This Wednesday, Sporting Club Corinthians could finally win the Copa Libertadores if they avoid defeat against Boca Juniors at Pacaembu in Sao Paulo.
Winning the Libertadores would be a feat they have so far failed to acheive in their 102 year history.
Corinthians is a team which many believe has close ties with England having been named after the English team of the same name which won six exhibition games in Rio and Sao Paulo.
In actual fact, back in 1910, football was very much an elite sport in Brazil played by British descendents and those who worked for British companies. A group of Brazilian labourers decided to form a club of the people, by the people and for the people and Sport Club Corinthians Paulista was born.
Since 1910, the fortunes of the two clubs moved in very different directions. Corinthian, the English club formed in 1882 with the intention of developing a squad capable of challenging the supremacy of the Scotland football team, originally only played friendlies and consisted of England players whom mostly played for other clubs. Had they competed in the league or FA cup they might have been very successful. In 1884 they beat the FA Cup Champions 8-1 and in 1903 they beat 10-3 a Bury side that had demolished derbt 6-0 in the cup final. It’s even said that Corinthian were the inspiration for Read Madrid adopting white shirts.
Following the Great War, Corinthian prospects began to decline after abandoning their original principle of only playing charity matches and in 1939 they merged with fellow amateur club the Casuals. they now play in the Isthmian League Division One South at King George’s Field, Tolworth, Surrey which has a capacity of 2,700.
Sport Club Corinthians Paulista on the other hand have gone from strength to strength winning the state championship a record 26 times and the Brazilian championship on five occassions, the Brazilian Cup three times but have only won one international trophy – the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship.
Home games are played at the 40,000 capacity Pacaembu, a far cry from the field that players and fans had to clean before matches in 1910. Now the club has an estimated value of around £300m making it the richest club in Brazil, and boasts an estimated 30 million fans (equivalent to the population of countries the size of Peru, Veneuela or Malaysia, although admittedly a long way behind the world’s most supported club’s estimated fanbase of 333 million – Manchester United).
By Thursday morning we will know whether Sport Club Corinthians Paulista have managed to secure the prize which has eluded them for so long.