Palmeiras: the Green Giant. Our Verdão have a unique and beautiful history, richer than any other Brazilian club. But living off the past is for historians and museums.
It’s been long since Palmeiras revealed great players (the exception being goalkeepers). Palmeiras have won no important title in the last ten years (and no, I’m not considering the 2008 São Paulo State Championship as “important”). The club is feeble on the political arena and pathetically amateurish in its administration, proving year after year to be the perfect breeding ground for small-minded and incompetent individuals putting their own interests in front of the club’s. Lately, Palmeiras have produced only great – and mostly embarrassing – headlines in the press.
So why are Palmeiras still huge? Why are Palmeiras the fourth strongest club brand in Brazil? Why are Palmeiras year after year landing large sponsor contracts? Why are Palmeiras still receiving high revenues from TV broadcasting rights?
The one answer to the above is spelled “supporters” and Palmeiras have an estimated 15 million of them. They are at the heart and soul of the club; in addition to secure large numbers of supporters at any home and away game, they form a vivid and passionate community that interacts on social media and through the already well known media palestrina – a universe of independent websites, blogs and online radio and TV stations. In addition, supporters are becoming increasingly politicised, aware of the critical situation inside of Palmeiras and determined to promote change.
Why is change needed? Because Palmeiras is run like a social club, where a president is elected by a group of some 300 counsellors, out of which roughly half are “lifetime members”, gaining their status due to the length of their membership, political alliances and friendly networks. Nor president nor directors receive salaries (i.e. they are amateurs): hardly acceptable for a football club with annual revenues of US$ 110 million.
Members are reacting by electing their representatives to the Council and pushing for political change from within. Direct elections for president and changes to the composition and powers of the Council are among the most important proposals put forward by the opposition. The current holders of power, led by former president Mustafá Contursi from backstage, resist by all means available, including foul play. The latest trick includes an attempt to bundle all proposals of statuary change into one single proposal, and in this process include items that would nullify the proposals put forward by the opposition. The voters would have two choices: vote down the package (maintaining status quo) or approve it (perversely shifting power even more toward the Council). A true, and unlawful, coup.
In the light of the above, palmeirenses are tonight 24 October gathering in front of the Academia for a peaceful but forceful protest aimed at influencing the counsellors that are gathering to discuss the above mentioned proposals.
As has been said before: Anything Palmeiras wholeheartedly supports this initiative and strongly urges you to do whatever is possible to participate in this uprising, either by socialising the information or, even better, physically taking part in the manifestation (details to be found on the campaign’s facebook page). It’s a cliché, but yes: more than ever the future of Palmeiras depends on it.