Huge interest in Isthmian League club

icon brazilflag17 November ~ In WSC 303 I wrote about the affinity between non-League Corinthian-Casuals, based in Surrey, and the Brazilian giants Sporting Club Corinthians Paulista. The two clubs have a shared history dating back to 1910, when the English amateur side toured Brazil and as a direct result the São Paulo club were formed. A great deal of attention from South America is directed towards the Isthmian League Division One South side and when Paulista do well, interest in Corinthian-Casuals escalates. Back in May 2012 the Corinthian-Casuals Facebook page had a little over 4,400 followers, the majority of which were Paulista fans.

Later that year Paulista went on to win the Copa Libertadores for the first time in their history and then the FIFA Club World Cup, beating Chelsea in the final. Casuals’ Facebook page now has over 127,000 followers.

Last week it was announced that Corinthian-Casuals will travel to Brazil in January 2015 to play Paulista in a friendly. The game is the brainchild of Casuals’ commercial director, Chris Watney. An ex-player and now a film maker, Watney is in the process of shooting a documentary about the history of the club, with a focus on the bond with the team in São Paulo.

Watney has witnessed first-hand in Brazil the passion that Paulista fans display for their “English forefathers” and mooted the idea of a match to coincide with the city of São Paulo’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Paulista fans were asked to select an opponent; with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea among the choices, 61 per cent voted in favour of Corinthian-Casuals.

These are exciting times for the Surrey club, who last sent their first team to Brazil in 1988 when Sócrates famously wore a Casuals shirt. The trip will be funded by gate receipts from the game and, despite the gulf in ability between the two sides, the Brazilians are keen to stress that the occasion is more important than the result. Paulista now play in their new Arena Corinthians stadium which was used for the FIFA 2014 World Cup opening ceremony and the tournament’s first game between Brazil and Croatia.

Interest in Brazil is already huge for the friendly; it will be shown live on national TV and according to Watney the game “will certainly be a sell-out, there will be a capacity crowd of over 47,000”. Casuals’ average attendance last season at their King George’s Field ground was 133.

Talking about Corinthian-Casuals, Paulista’s marketing director Alexandre Ferreira said: “We were able to see via social media that a lot of our fans want to see them and pay tribute to them.” He added that "we are going to use our professional team. The scoreline is not important, the event is important for our fans to know their history”. The game will be played on January 25 before Corinthian-Casuals return to England for an Isthmian League fixture against Carshalton Athletic. Andy Ollerenshaw

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