Iconic Brazilian club Santos, cradle of late football legend Pele, were relegated to the second division Wednesday for the first time in their history, just shy of the first anniversary of his death.
Santos suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Fortaleza in their final league match of the season, sealing their fate as the last of the four teams condemned to the “B Series” league next year.
The home of Pele and Neymar finished their lackluster season in 17th place, on 43 points — one shy of Bahia, who dodged relegation with a 4-1 win over Atletico Mineiro, and 27 short of Sao Paulo giants Palmeiras, who claimed their second straight league title.
Luis Suarez-led Gremio finished in a surprisingly strong second place on 68 points, thanks to a brace from the Uruguayan striker in their 3-2 win against Fluminense.
Santos’s relegation comes less then a year after three-time World Cup-winner Pele’s death on December 29, 2022, at age 82.
The embarrassment follows years of economic and athletic troubles at Santos, and leaves Flamengo and Sao Paulo as the only clubs in Brazil never to have been relegated.