Exeter City are to take on Fluminense next summer to mark the 100th anniversary of the League Two side’s match against the newly formed Brazilian national team.
On a tour of South America in July 1914, Exeter played a team consisting of the best players from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro at Fluminense’s stadium. That match is now officially considered the first played by Brazil.
Exeter marked their own centenary in 2004 with a match against a Brazil Masters team featuring veterans including World Cup heroes Dunga, Careca and Branco at their St James’ Park stadium, and plans were in place at that time for a return game in Brazil.
That will now take place on July 20, 2014, at the Estadio das Laranjeiras in Rio de Janeiro — seven days after the World Cup final.
“The confirmation that once again Exeter City will play in Brazil represents another page in our club's fascinating history,” the Grecians’ chief executive, Julian Tagg, said. “This event has been three years in the making and a huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes.
“Fluminense is a major sporting club at a world level with a rich tapestry of achievements behind them, and so for Exeter to be part of that history and recognised as such is something every true lover of our wonderful game should cherish.”
Although there had been discussions over the match nine years ago, it was by no means certain that it would be financially viable, but Tagg revealed that Fluminense have agreed to cover costs.
“It was always in our DNA that this was coming sooner or later,” he said. “Our task therefore was to do the right thing to recreate it. Our club is not rich by any means. We are in the sense that we have no debt, but we’re not rich — so therefore our task has been to do it at no cost.
“Fluminense are going to take responsibility for making sure we have accommodation there and our flights. That was the first step that we wanted — it may go further and we make something from it — but the one thing we couldn’t do was to take the risk of booking things up and not being able to afford to pay. They have taken that responsibility of paying for, and raising the money for, our flights and accommodation.”
British teams had frequently toured other countries in South America in the early part of the 20th century as their presence was requested to help popularise the sport as it spread throughout the globe.
However, Exeter — who did not join the Football League until 1920 — were the first professional club to play in Brazil. The Southern League side had agreed to play in Argentina and, during a stop-off in Rio de Janeiro, added a series of games in Brazil to their itinerary.
Exeter first beat a team of English expats 3-0 and then a Rio XI 5-3 before the match at Fluminense, which was the first to feature players from more than one Brazilian state. Before a capacity crowd of 6,000, the Brazilian selection ran out 2-0 winners in a hot-tempered match.