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nobre pesca.
This coming Saturday, the little more than 10.000 members of Palmeiras’ social club will elect a president for the upcoming two years. For the first time, voting for president is not an exclusive right of the consiglieri, Palmeiras slowly taking steps toward greater democracy. That being said: any presidential candidate had to receive a minimum 15% of votes in a pre-election decided by said counsellors to be allowed to run, and only two candidates made the cut – sitting president Paulo Nobre and the opposition candidate Wlademir Pescarmona, the latter tied to the União Verde e Branca political group including former president Belluzzo.

Anything Palmeiras presented both candidates with three questions ahead of the upcoming elections. Regrettably, only Pescarmona chose to reply. Below, the short “interview”.

Anything Palmeiras: If elected, which three important changes at Palmeiras are to be expected during your 2015-2017 mandate?

Wlademir Pescarmona: 1) the recruitment of an executive for the football department, a professional who is updated and currently employed in a relevant position. 2) the creation of a support group to the presidency, with the mission to seek out new partnerships. 3) improved relations with WTorre and other partners.

AP: Which three policies/practices will be maintained at whatever cost?

WP: 1) not spend more than is being raised. 2) not anticipate revenues beyond the time of your mandate. 3) nurture the relationship with partners, using the support group, to build and maintain a strong and competitive football team.

AP: During your mandate, what will Palmeiras do to increase visibility internationally?

WP: use the influence of businessmen and designate “ambassadors”, in particular targeting the North American market. 

spying_glass.
An untried practice may help deal with the root of problems that for almost 40 years have been sickening one of the most passionately loved football clubs in the world.

*by Erasmo München

To those of us that support Palmeiras, the last 38 years – all years after the 1976 trophy in the São Paulo state league – have seen penury of results, the exception being the 8 years of the Palmeiras & Parmalat “shared-management experiment”.

Yes, there were near exception cases like the good teams of 1978 and 1979, then the 1983 and 1986 line ups that also almost made it, the 1989 team with lots of signings coupled with the iron fisted rule of our former goal keeper as coach that lost one match and ended up knocked out in the quarter finals; plus the wins in 2008 and 2012.

But the fact is that during this period, when left to its own devices, the club most of the times didn’t quite make it and only won twice, which actually adds to the theory: from 1976 onwards, except for the time that Parmalat brought a combination of torrential cash flow with sound management practices, plus the political lull that it engendered, nothing really lastingly good happened to the Verdão.

What can we do to overcome this “kind of curse”?

A global centre of excellence in football players
I am 55 years old and I still remember the first time that my dad took me to a Palmeiras match. That happened in 1965, the stadium was Ulrico Mursa in Santos and the score was Portuguesa Santista 1 x 2 Palmeiras. 

Since then, and mostly after 1970, I became a fervent follower of the club and got used to one refrain that resembled the slogan of Ultragaz a liquefied gas company very active then. It used to say “every other day, Ultragaz is at your door” (to deliver gas); to the football arena, it translated as “every other year, Palmeiras wins a title” (ano sim, ano não, o Palmeiras é campeão, for those of us who understand Portuguese).

I saw Tupazinho, Servilho, Gallardo (he scored the two goals in the first game I mentioned above), Zequinha, Djalma Santos, Djalma Dias, Ferrari, Rinaldo, Copeu, Jaime, Minuca, Nelson, Baldochi, Dé, Pio, Hector Silva etc.

Then from 1972 up to 1975, the renowned “academy part 2”: Leão, Eurico, Luis Pereira, Alfredo and Zeca; Dudu and Ademir; Edu, Leivinha, Cesar and Ney. Came 1976 and in spite of the emptiness felt due to the exit of the likes of Luis Pereira, Leivinha (gone to play in Spain for Atletico Madrid), Eurico (left to play for Grêmio), Dudu (retired and acting as coach for the club), Zeca (also retired), the team managed to rely on good replacements and plucked up another São Paulo state league win.

And before my early years as supporter, there had been other wonderful players like Romeo, Fiúme, Cattani, Heitor, Tosi, Jair, Lima, Mazzola, Julinho etc. In other words, as a lineage of good players, Palmeiras has always been considered a global centre of excellence!

Excellence in players requires a reasonable level of political unity
What none of us supporters knew is that at that very time – the 1970s – a hidden “revolution” – one should say an authentic coup d’etat – was quietly taking place. The politics of the club were being hijacked by one individual whose only aim has been to dominate the decisions and probably for his private benefit. After that, politicking and disunity became the “core value”, the “guiding principle” of the club. 

Yes, Palmeiras had never been a paragon of peace, but despite the internal fights for power and for winning an argument, when it came to bring about what was best for the club and the football team, all political forces used to “row in the same direction up the river”. Not by accident, one famous expression in Brazil seems to have been coined in Palmeiras’ politics prior to 1976: “it all ended in pizza”, as a sign that even hot debates could be sorted out around a good chunk of dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese sprinkled with oregano, as long as the best solution for the common purpose had been achieved.

After this individual reached the central stage of the club’s politics though it all changed and the implied motto of his dealings is “the end justifies the means”, as Machiavelli would say.

The results of this state of affairs are appallingly obvious: rarefied number of titles, two relegations (perhaps three), loss of position in the rank of supporters, downgrading of the club’s brand market value – the difficulty in finding a good sponsor is a good proxy for that – debts, terrific difficulties in acquiring working capital. And apart from the benefits expected from the renovated stadium, perspectives are rather gloom.

Yes, there is the direct vote for president that will be tried for the first time this year that many see as a promising move. But that also is a an uncertain step because of fears that the average club member may not be as sensitive to the football team’s problems: it’s known even that many club members are supporters of rival teams, and that became members only to benefit from the club’s facilities.

Political unity entails an as yet untried action: full transparency
Therefore, the main conclusion one draws from all these years of disunity and poor performance is that for the team to continually succeed and attract the admiration of supporters, the number one factor is not to have excellence in football players although that is a non-negotiable requirement. 

But for this requirement to take place, the number one condition is to have a solid amount of unity in the way the team is governed, i.e. decisions have to be taken exclusively for the good of the team and there cannot be any level of boycotting.

The question is “how do we achieve this”? After all, boycotts and individualism driven opposition are hard to put the finger on, aren’t they? And if a solution for that were so obvious, after almost 40 years it’d probably have been put in practice.

There is one thing though that I haven’t seen tried so far, that is full transparency. Full transparency can prune those that “row the canoe in the wrong direction”.

Let’s expose the real culprits. Let’s bring their dealings into the open. Let’s show who benefits from the poor signings of overrated players, let’s show the supporters the real terms of the agreements signed behind the curtains, let’s find out if there is someone who boycotts the preparation of the team, why players shirk instead of giving their maximum.

As it stands today, the executive leadership bear the brunt of the failures. Many certainly deserve it. But, I am sure that in almost 40 years we had good managers with real commitment to the club but that have been sabotaged by uncommitted people.

I firmly believe that this will not only intimidate them now, but it will help eradicate their existence in the future. We the supporters have to know who gains so that we lose. People like this individual who has been in control of the politics of Palmeiras have to be set apart from the process and exposing them is an untried way to accomplish this.

Doing this, we can foster that “reasonable unity” mentioned above and then stand a chance to bring back the times when rooting for Palmeiras was pleasurable, motivating, reinvigorating.

Let’s make it happen. The club deserves it, the club supporters deserve it, the Brazilian sports community deserves it.

The centennial history of Palmeiras deserves it!

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*Erasmo München is 55 years old, Brazilian, and the biological child of an Italian man and a Brazilian women. Early in life, Erasmo was adopted by a family of Italian descent: becoming a passionate palmeirense was definitely his destiny. Holding two university degrees (Economics and Administration), he works as project auditor for a Dutch humanitarian entity.

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From time to time, you will find contributions from guest writers, on a variety of topics, here at Anything Palmeiras. Feel free to leave your feedback – either directly in the comments field or contacting the author.

In quicksand

Atlético Mineiro and Sport at home, SPFC and Coritiba away: these were our last four games, all of them 2-0 defeats. Palmeiras have not scored a goal in three weeks. The astonishing drop in productivity might have correlation with the leaking of a list early this month supposedly naming a hefty number of players to be negotiated at the end of the season. Valdivia serving his national squad, then injuring himself for the nth time, is another factor: we all know how dependent Palmeiras have become on the Chilean playmaker. Dorival Juniors’ limitations as a coach is a third factor: he insists on repeating the same unsuccessful formations, players and philosophy, never bringing novelty to the mix.
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Nothing indicates Palmeiras will win any of two remaining games this season: Internacional (away, this coming Saturday) is a victory away from securing their spot in next year’s edition of the Libertadores Cup, while Atlético Paranaense (at home, the following Sunday) might still be looking at securing theirs in the South America Cup.

Palmeiras are first out of the relegation zone, only one lousy point ahead of Vitória, who lost 2-0 to Figueirense yesterday. The second team from the state of Bahia, namely, er, Bahia, trails another five points behind Palmeiras, with Botafogo and Criciúma even further down. I consider the bottom three already relegated, while the fourth relegation spot is reserved for Vitória or Palmeiras.

Again: I do not believe Palmeiras will bag any additional points this season, meaning Vitória can be allowed but one draw in the last two rounds. The baianos will play Flamengo away and Santos at home. Flamengo has opted for taking their game to the Arena da Amazônia in Manaus, looking at cashing in on the large crowds of local flamenguistas hungry for some action. I hope it means Flamengo’s players will come motivated enough. As for Santos, there is no telling. They might be locking their sights on a spot in next year’s South America Cup. Or they might be enjoying the prospect of help sinking their local rival Palmeiras in the mud.

Since always, Brazilian football has seen the practice of “malas brancas”, i.e. “white briefcases”. A “mala preta” is offering someone money to lose, and is of course illegal; a “mala branca” is offering someone money as an incentive to do their very best. Rest assured Palmeiras are studying suitable, white briefcases for Flamengo and Santos.

visao_bancada_allianz_parque.
When there is little to win but much to lose, think twice. Think thrice. Then discard the line of action you were contemplating.

With the team fighting against relegation – and only two home games remaining this season – going through with the inauguration of the Allianz Parque was a highly questionable decision. Sure, the opening was a celebration supporters had been looking forward to for the last four years and a bit. The over the top ticket prices, combined with a sold-out venue, brought in close to US$ 2.5 million to the club. And a victory against Sport would have effectively lifted Palmeiras out of harm’s way with three remaining rounds of the Brasileirão.

Well yes, Palmeiras could have won. Could have. Felipe Menezes’ header in the middle of the first half was a turning point, a lost opportunity that, in my opinion, ended up sealing Palmeiras’ fate. Sport played tight, retracted, knowing that Palmeiras would create few opportunities – as always when Valdivia is absent – and become more and more anxious as time progressed. Menezes blew his opportunity. Former Palmeiras striker Ananias did not. In the end, 0-2 was a fair result.

Palmeiras are a weak team. Weaker still under pressure. The task of a mandatory victory – in order to escape relegation and not ruin the celebration of a 39.000 strong crowd – proved overwhelming. Unsurprisingly.

On one side of the balance, revenues and initial euphoria. On the other, despair, tears and rage. The night was unforgettable. But not in the way it should have been.

It’s not about foreseeing the future, but about weighting cost vs. benefit, risk vs. payout. The prospect of opening the Arena under current circumstances was surrounded by uncertainties and split decisions anyway you look at it. I defended postponing the whole thing to 2015. Too late now.

With elections at Palmeiras only nine days away, certainly the decision to go through with the inauguration was influenced by the current administration’s desire to be associated with a grand celebration. The totality of damage done by the backfired plan goes well beyond lost pride, goes beyond the risk of relegation. It threatens the core of some important structural change that Palmeiras are undergoing and that, in my opinion, are crucial in order to elevate Palmeiras from the modus operandi seen at Corinthians, Flamengo, Botafogo and a majority of Brazilian clubs. Mr. Hyde’s disastrous management of football has come to overshadow Dr. Jekyll’s good work in terms of implementing sound financial management at Palmeiras: a positive balance sheet by the end of the month has become a subject of mockery and a symbol of “those who care nothing about football”.

Today, we are all hanging our heads in shame. Nevertheless, I believe Palmeiras will find strength somehow and remain in the first division, if not by merit, by incapability of other teams to capitalize on our fragility.

Also, within 2-3 years, I truly believe we’ll be experiencing change. Palmeiras have the most important ingredients: a solid history, a strong identity, a passionate and large supporter base, a stadium to call our own, and a growing range of national and, in particular, international partners. Maintaining and improving sound administrational and financial practices, combined with increasing revenues, should allow for the hiring of great professionals and the steady forming of a new squad, a new team. Palmeiras’ president for the coming two years – whoever that might be – will have all the tools available and no excuses.

Turning our attention back to the immediate needs: on Sunday Palmeiras face direct contender for relegation Coritiba, at the Couto Pereira stadium – needless to say, a crucial game. I will be at the stadium. The Mané Garrincha, in Brasilia, trying to enjoy Paul McCartney. Talk about timing.

bom_filho.
Jack Bauer’s sitting this one out. After all, it’s a domestic affair. In exactly 24 hours, Palmeiras are returning home. The opening game, against Sport, will be a feast for the eyes. For the soul. Not an empty seat in the Allianz Parque. The squad will be wearing a special jersey, with the well-known Brazilian phrase “o bom filho a casa torna” (the good son returns home) circling the badge. A light cannon, projecting the Italian tricolore in homage of the club’s origins, will be announcing – tomorrow and every time from now on – when Palmeiras are on the pitch.
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canhao_luzes.
Tickets were made available firstly based on Avanti rating, secondly based on the level of Avanti, and then released to club members. Most were sold online, but some also physically. Some people waited as long as 7-8 hours in line in order to guarantee their seat at the event of the year.

But it’s not all roses. Far from it. After Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to São Paulo, Palmeiras need the three points desperately. The inauguration of the Allianz Parque will be forever remembered either as the game that propelled Palmeiras out of harms’ way, or as one of the most humiliating moments in the club’s history. No telling how our youngish squad will handle the pressure, especially without the reference of experienced Valdivia on the pitch: the Chilean is on tonight for his national team in a friendly against Uruguay. It was speculated that he would take a flight straight to São Paulo after the game, being available against Sport in case Dorival needed to pull an ace out of the sleeve in the second half. No such luck: the list just came out and our playmaker is not on it.

No, this did not turn out the way it was planned. Or rather: this is what you get when planning is lacking.

39.000 at the Allianz Parque must be one tomorrow. 15 million supporters idem. Harsh words, but tomorrow is not about celebration, not about gaping in awe at South Americas’ most modern multipurpose stadium. It’s about carrying eleven men towards victory at absolutely any cost.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

One of the worst features of Brazilian society – and consequently reflected in Brazilian football – is the lack of predictability. Rules changes constantly. And when they don’t, the share number of them and their fuzziness lead to uncertainty. In addition, there’s a chronic disregard for rules, in part due to a lack of harmonization of existing ones. Any businessman will tell you about state and federal rules that are incompatible: follow one and, automatically, break the other.

Every so often, rules of the Brazilian championship, the Brazil cup or, especially, any of the state championships change. A little more than a decade ago, this was an effective measure to ensure that the “right” clubs were kept in the competition: if any of the major clubs are relegated, change the name of the competition and tweak a rule or two, then invite them right back in.

The lack of predictability at club level is symptomatic, Palmeiras being no exception. Lately, most of the turbulence has been generated around the Allianz Parque, now 97% completed. It’s of course normal with constructions suffering delays, but it will be almost five years before we see the Allianz Parque completed. Now, once an opening date is picked, you’d better be damn sure nothing will get in your way. The massive expectations surrounding the game against Atlético Mineiro last Saturday – turned to dust by the lack of a complete set of operating licenses – was another indicator of how desperately Palmeiras need directors who can trace an objective and execute, step by step, in an orderly fashion. Blame the constructor WTorre if you want, it doesn’t matter: ultimately, it’s the Palmeiras supporter who takes the wrap. Being so, the responsibility is Palmeiras’.
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Pretty, yes. But unfinished. And wrongly timed.

Pretty, yes. But unfinished. And wrongly timed.

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Same logic applies to the recent removal of rows of seats and the hastily erected dividing structures – both measures imposed by the police to increase partition between home and away supporters – taking away an astonishing 4.000 seats, almost ten per cent of the total capacity of the stadium, in addition to creating blind spots. How come this was not foreseen? WTorre is clearly not delivering, but Palmeiras have not done their homework either. Where’s all the talk about “FIFA standards” now?

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dividers_allianz
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New problems pop up on a daily basis. Palmeiras supporters have been questioning for months why no institutional symbols are to be found on the outside walls of the stadium, as featured on all drawings and models presented by WTorre throughout the years. Only today, an explanation was offered: the size of the Palmeiras badge – or any other badge for that matter – violates municipal laws, falling under the city of São Paulo “visual pollution” act. Couldn’t this have been solved through the obtaining of an exception? Shouldn’t have to take four years and a bit, should it?

With so many problems arising, attention is effectively diverted from the celebration that the inauguration of the Allianz Parque deserves. The problem is further aggravated by a sudden change in the rating of the Avanti supporter programme, a rating that is crucial in determining who will have ticket priority ahead of big games; the Allianz Parque opening game against Sport on 19 October obviously being one of these. It’s almost criminal.

I say drop the whole thing, use the stadium for shows and whatever, but have Palmeiras use it only as of 2015.

Last Saturday, Palmeiras lost 2-0 at home to the Atlético Mineiro bench. With five rounds to go, Palmeiras are no more than five point above the relegation zone. That’s where our focus should be. Starting with Sunday’s derby against The Eternal Enemy SPFC.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Enzo na Allianz.
– Palmeiras are finished.

- No-one respects us.

- Thinking small, acting small, our DNA is raped.

- The damage done is irreversible.

The last two years the few lines above at large reflect the sentiment of a considerable part of Palmeiras supporters. Especially, but not exclusively, those who claim not giving a rat’s ass about administration and finances, only wanting a strong team on the pitch and trophies in the cabinet.  

Palmeirenses go through hell more often than we care to count, the common denominator being one dreadful administration after the other. The last few years have seen Belluzzo’s reckless optimism, Tirone’s muppet show and Nobre’s pig-headed Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality.

Nothing lasts forever. Empires crumble, civilizations disappear, species are extinct. Institutions, idem. We can never treat Palmeiras as eternal if we truly want her to survive the test of time. Nothing comes for free or can be taken for granted. We need directors who understand the responsibility and are ready to respond, personally, for whatever happens to the institution.

While we must always remember ourselves that even a centenary club like Palmeiras can implode (vide recent developments at traditional club Portuguesa), we must never dismiss our greatness, our history and our continuous ability to enchant. Take another look at the picture opening this post. Take a good look at five-year-old Enzo de Martino. Now tell me that Palmeiras are finished and the damage is irreversible.

The other day, Palmeiras’ supporter programme Avanti reached 50.000 members. With the eminent opening of the Allianz Parque, a further surge is expected.

With last Sunday’s important 1-0 away victory against Bahia, the feeling of relief is evident, the threat of relegation almost vanished. Palmeiras should be able to give Atlético some heat this coming Saturday, not least due to the mineiros’ tough game tomorrow against Flamengo in the Brazil Cup (while Palmeiras spend the week resting and training).

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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