A competition meant to be the precursor to a Brazilian Premier League has been officially formed after a meeting by member clubs in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday.
The statute for the "Liga Sul-Minas-Rio," a regional tournament consisting of clubs from five states in Brazil's south, was signed by its 13 founding members -- Flamengo and Fluminense of Rio, Internacional and Gremio of Rio Grande do Sul, Atletico-MG and Cruzeiro of Minas Gerais, Coritiba and Atletico-PR of Parana, and Joinville, Chapacoense, Criciuma, Avai and Figueirense of Santa Catarina -- at Flamengo's headquarters on Thursday.
The newly created league is aiming to stage a 10-team tournament over eight dates at the beginning of 2016. Two teams from each state will participate. In the case of Santa Catarina, Figueirense and Criciuma will be chosen based on their federation ranking.
"The intention is to have it in 2016, next year. We have to adapt to the state leagues' calendar. The competition will have eight dates, I think it won't be a problem," Santa Catarina federation chief Delfim de Padua Peixoto, who is one of the few state heads to support the league, said.
The statute for the new league will be delivered to the Brazilian football association (CBF) later on Thursday.
"Now we will be hiring a league CEO, and we'll start to think about regulation, financing, format, court punishments, financial discipline. We have absolute certainty CBF will authorise this league," Gremio president Romildo Bolzan said.
The league was formed to circumvent the restrictive influence of state federations on clubs, and eventually set the stage for a national competition that will be run by the clubs themselves, much like the Premier League in England.
"We have this intention, it's a giant step. It's like this in the world where football works. It's like this in England, Spain, Italy, Germany. We have to copy what works. We are behind," said Cruzeiro chief Gilvan Tavares, who will serve as the new league's first president.
"Brazilian football, Argentine, compared to the Europeans, are really behind in relation to this. Our directors, our tournaments aren't even close. We generate infinitely less because we don't have the same organisation. We will alert other clubs about the need to make this step," Tavares said, before adding that more clubs are encouraged to join.
"We started with eight clubs, we added Flamengo and Fluminense after. And I know many other clubs are also pleading to be a part of this league.
"Nothing prevents, but for now we are in the moment of creation, to create the statute, to create the league. Nothing prevents that tomorrow admit one, another, and soon have all clubs. It would be great for Brazilian football."