In a historic twist of fate, Santos Football Club, a pillar of Brazilian soccer, will play in Serie B of the Brazilian Championship for the first time. The team's descent from Serie A was confirmed on December 6, 2023, following a 2-1 defeat by Fortaleza at Vila Belmiro, São Paulo. The relegation was further cemented by the victories of Bahia and Vasco over Atlético and Bragantino, respectively.
A Grueling Season for Santos
Santos concluded the season with 43 points, equal to Bahia, but a lesser goal difference tipped the scales. Despite the fervent support from fans who rallied the team, the final whistle was met with tears, hurled objects, and a pitch invasion. The relegation marks a poignant moment in the club's history, coming less than a year after the passing of iconic player, Pelé, the club's legendary number 10.
A Symbolic Goal from a Former Player
Marinho, a former Santos player and a key figure in the club's 2020 Libertadores runner-up campaign, delivered the decisive goal for Fortaleza. This event served as a stark reminder of Santos' underwhelming performance throughout the season. Santos' coach Marcelo Fernandes made changes in the first half, but the only goal Santos managed came from defender Messias.
Looking Ahead to 2024
In 2024, Santos will face new challenges in the Second Division. Fortaleza, however, finished 10th with 54 points, ensuring a spot in the 2024 Copa Sudamericana. As the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) paid tribute to Pelé throughout the championship, the relegation of Santos signifies a new low in the club's post-Pelé era.