It is little wonder Andy Woodward’s journey helping authorities stamp out abuse in the sport has brought him here.
This prestigious football club is now at the centre of Brazil’s child sex abuse scandal.
Its soccer academy is in turmoil after a 19-year-old former youth player spoke out about suffering sexual abuse when he was just 11.
The man accused was still working at the club as coordinator of its youth academy. He is now suspended amid a sexual assault investigation that dates back to 2010.
“It is the tip of the iceberg definitely,” said Woodward – who was abused as a child by English paedophile football coach Barry Bennell.
“But this individual who’s come forward – we don’t know if it has or hasn’t happened – but if it’s proven then he’s an extremely brave person and could change this country in the future.”
Santos FC will not comment while the police investigation is under way but the escalating scandal is prompting a national conversation Brazil has not had before.
Valter Camello played for Palmeiras in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
We met him on the sidelines of a Santos youth players’ training session.
“They’ll be scared when they see a man in a suit,” he tells me. “They’ll think I’m an agent.”
Fear is a recurring subject when you speak to people here about football.
The sport has so much power. It is not just because becoming a player is every young boy’s dream but because an opportunity in a club can pull a child out of a slum and transform their lives.
Camello talked about abuse he saw and suffered nearly 40 years ago as a youth player.
The abuse came in all guises – sexual, psychological, racial.
He explained why he has never spoken about it before today: “A young poor black boy looking to make a career, against a coach who’s famous?
“Who would believe my word against his? I have never mentioned that to anybody. I’m 56 now. It happened when I was 18.”
Years later and little has changed. Poverty is rife and football is powerful. More than 11 million people live in Brazil’s slums, known as favelas. Crime there is high and life expectancy low.
Football scouts often recruit from some of these very poor areas.
We went to one of Sao Paulo’s biggest slums and saw children in the middle of a dirt football pitch surrounded by makeshift housing.
There was no ball, but they have found stones and a screwdriver and somehow we make a game.
When I say these children have nothing, it is not an exaggeration.
A charity feeds 900 of the favela’s children each day – they say it is the only meal they will get.
They used to feed 1,500 children but due to a lack of funding they have had to stop meals for 600 children – a decision they called “heartbreaking”.
For children living in these conditions, if a football agent comes calling with a ticket out of there, a child – a family – will take it, not knowing what it might cost.
Most of Brazil’s clubs have hostels where their youth players live. Brazil is a huge country and many boys are given opportunities in clubs far away from home.
At Santos, the youngest players live in dorms beneath the stadium and the older teenagers in a house nearby.
We saw the rooms which sleep three to four in bunk beds. For one of the country’s wealthier clubs, the dorms are still extremely basic but it is luxury compared to where many come from.
For vulnerable boys living in these hostels there is little protection from abuse.
The country’s extreme poverty means many would never speak, out for fear of losing the opportunity that has dragged them out of extreme poverty.
This is the immense challenge for authorities working to stamp out abuse.
The national obsession with the game and the country’s poverty has harboured decades of abuse – a dangerous cocktail that still exists in the sport today.
Woodward’s invitation to come to Brazil to assist the country’s campaign has added volume to the clamour to do more about abuse in the sport.
When he broke his story in November 2016, revealing six years of systematic abuse by coach Barry Bennell from the age of 10, it prompted hundreds more men to come forward with tales of abuse in English football.
It prompted a wave of disclosures about child abuse in sport worldwide.
In a statement responding to Sky News’ reports, governing body FIFA said: “FIFA considers the protection of children and young people as fundamental in football and in this regard recently joined the Council of Europe’s Start to Talk initiative…
“FIFA has also set up an expert working group to develop a safeguarding toolkit to support its member associations in adopting measures to protect children and vulnerable adults.”