Guilty by Association – the tale of a Celtic supporter in SP

Last week, two separate incidents that took place on Sunday 30 September made headlines both in Brazil and worldwide: the first involved a 13-year-old girl who stirred the blood of Coritiba supporters as she asked for and received the jersey from a player of the opposite team (Lucas, of São Paulo) at the end of the game; the second incident involved a Celtic supporter watching a Corinthians game from the stands at the Pacaembu, and is the focus of this post.

In an all-exclusive interview for Anything Palmeiras, 43-year-old Kevin Fawl from Edinburgh tells us exactly what happened that day and why the Corinthians club management have expressed their eagerness in finding the Scotsman to “put things right”.

— ooo —

Anything Palmeiras: Tell us a little about your trip, Kevin. Was this your first time in Brazil?

Kevin Fawl: Yes, it was. I arrived in São Paulo to conduct a few audits, arriving Saturday 30 September and leaving Thursday 4th October. This was my first time in Brazil and I do not speak Portuguese.

AP: Why on earth go to a Corinthians game in the first place?!?

KF: I had the Sunday available to rest and adjust to the time-zone. So I thought I would try and see a Brazilian football match. When I checked online in Scotland, the only game was Corinthians vs. Sport at 4pm on the Sunday. I talked to my contact in São Paulo and he got me a VIP ticket which was left at the hotel desk for my arrival.

AP: You’re a big Celtic fan, I take it.

KF: I always wear my Celtic tops and had my hoops on when I went. Celtic are a Scottish team 6.000 miles away from São Paulo. I did not believe there was any relevance between the two teams and still don’t.

There were lots of fans outside and there did not appear to be an issue outside the stadium. I also visited the stadium, the museum, etc.

When I entered the VIP door, I was shown to my seat. I looked around and there were other team shirts such as Sunderland, Inter Milan, etc. So I didn’t think I was out of place with my Celtic top.
.

Everything calm initially

.
AP: When did you start noticing something was wrong? Talk us through what happened.

The first half was ok, but no goals and passed off without any issue. However, when the referee blew for half-time that status changed. I stood up to stretch my legs and heard a couple of loud voices shouting in Portuguese. I thought this was normal and didn’t take any notice. I looked inside my VIP bag, etc. Then the number of voices increased and the volume increased. I then looked around and it was clear it was something near me that was the problem.

AP: “Near you”? The innocence of the lambs…

KF: Again, I just assumed it was something other than me that was the issue, as I had no reason to feel threatened.

Then, a Corinthians supporter outside the VIP area got my attention and told me that my top was causing offense. At that point, a police officer appeared and spoke in Portuguese. I started to realize what was happening and thought the best course of action was to go inside the VIP area away from the crowd. As I did this, two officers followed me in and a couple of fans apologized and shook their heads. The noise at this point was very loud and it sounded like half the stadium was jeering.
.

Escorted out by the police…

.
Once inside, I decided that it was best to put on my jacket, leave the stadium, and go back to the hotel. Which I did. As I left the VIP area to exit, one of the girls said that they were sorry and the issue was due to one of Corinthians’ rivals wearing green tops. Which I now know to be Palmeiras.

AP: Yes, the rivalry between Palmeiras and Corinthians is indeed something special and the derbies between the two are among the most talked about in Brazilian football. But say: in your opinion, were you foolish and, in a sense, “deserved it” or were the Corinthians supporters out of line?

KF: I think the Corinthians’ fans were a bit strange. A colour of a top does not define a team. A Celtic top is a Celtic top. Just as a Palmeiras top is a Palmeiras top. If I was wearing a Palmeiras shirt, then you could argue stupidity on my part. But I wasn’t.

In hindsight, I could have checked this. However, it should not excuse the poor behaviour of those fans towards a foreign tourist whose only objective was to enjoy his first Brazilian football match.

AP: Meaning you have now understood that in Brazil, you belong to a family of 15 million who wears green and white, the glorious Palmeiras family, who would receive you with open arms?

KF: I may be in São Paulo in 12 months and would happily come to see a full 90 minutes of a Palmeiras game, proudly wearing the Green and White hoops of Glasgow Celtic.

AP: Kevin, thank you for sharing your story with us. Welcome back to Brazil, to São Paulo, and to Palmeiras; may your next stay surprise you only positively!

KF: You’re welcome. Thank you.

— ooo —

EDIT: Unfortunately, Kevin left Brazil before Palmeiras and yours truly got hold of him – otherwise, he could have looked forward to a visit at the Club House and a tour around the construction site of the New Arena. In any case, it’s now confirmed by Palmeiras’ Press Office that our own Scotsman can expect a little something in the snail mail any of these days.

Avanti Palestra!

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44 Comments

    1. Ricardo, indeed he seems to be. During the interview, he showed concern not to inflate feelings or promote rage, although he of course thinks it’s a sad thing what happened. Nice guy. Cheers!

  1. Very, very, sad Kristian. I´d like to believe in Sweden it is different from here in this issue. I´m not sure about England or in Scotland, however. Is it possible to watch a Glasgow Rangers game, in the middle of the Rangers´ crowd, wearing a Palmeiras´ jersey (that is, a green T-shirt?)?

    But, in the case of the Scottish guy, at least it was a opportunity to rescue him from the Dark Side of the Force.
    Cheers
    Milton

    1. I would think or at least hope that it would be different in Sweden, but one never knows for sure. And about watching a game in England or Scottland wearing the “wrong” colours, well, that I think would be best leaving Kevin to answer! I’ll invite him over to exchange his views on this with you guys. Cheers!

  2. I don’t want to inflate this story beyond what actually happened.
    Kristian asked objective questions and I provided relevant answers.
    At the game, I did not feel under threat at any point and took the correct course of action as I saw it. The same thing could possibly happen in the UK or other EU countries, so I don’t think Corinthians’ fans are hugely different from other fans that have huge football rivalries. However, when I compare the shirts of Palmeiras and Celtic, there is no real similarity – one is green and white hoops and one is all green and darker in tone. So that is the reason I think the response of the Corinthians’ fans was “strange”.

    I appreciate the nice comments and looking forward to the World Cup in 2014 – should be great!

  3. Just to make sure to everyone, I love Palmeiras, and because of living in São Luís for 5 years (which is too hot!), I do not have many shirts to protect me against the cold, and on days when we have to use a thin shirt, I have only a black and white shirt. I have already been in lots of Palmeiras’s games using this shirt, and nobody told me anything about it. So this is a Corinthians stupid idea, and does not represent the brazilians though!

  4. Excuse me but I have my own interpretation of this case. Nothing would have happened too much differently in the opposite situation, I mean, a careless foreigner wearing something that referred to an “enemy” squad in a Palmeiras match. As far as I knew, the few one hostiles attitude was not supported by the majority of the people in the stands, and the club itself looked for the “victim” to give him the excuses. It´s ok from your side to listen to and to solidarize with Kevin, but being wise not to use this sad episode against innocent people. Congrats.

    1. Newton, I think you are right and I believe, by judging from your comment, that you also recognise both mine and especially Kevin’s effort not to pour any fuel on the fire. It’s a rather straightforward report on what happened, take it or leave it. I’m sure we all hope for this to have been an isolated event. And yes, I’m also sure it could have happened in many places.

      Now, that being said, you might want to check out Cesar’s comment a bit further down.

      Cheers!
      Kristian

  5. Newton, as I told before: I have come several times using a black and white shirt in Palmeiras games, and nobody ever talked to me anytime to take off, inlcuding the last time, on october 2nd, where I was just a few meters from Mancha Verde, the biggest organized supporters

    1. Hi Cesar ! Dependent on the pattern of your shirt/blouse, I can only say you’re a very lucky guy. Mancha´s members carry no good reputation on “hospitality” !

  6. It was a ridiculous, however, normal situation in football stadiums. I doubt in Scotland was different. The rivarly between Celtic and Rangers isn’t restrict to football, there’s some religious issues too. In my opinion, Kevin was in a unlucky day, he went to the wrong place with the wrong t-shirt.

    I remembered two similar cases:

    In Turkey, McDonalds’ store near Besiktas stadium don’t have its common colors (yellow and red), because these are Galatasaray colors.

    And in Parintins, Amazonas, has an annual folkloric festival every year, which is a competition between two bulls. “Garantido” (red) and “Caprichioso” (blue). Look at this picture: http://uniclasse.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/cocacola_parintins_embalagens_lata.jpg

    Do I need to explain this rivarly too?

    Cheers.

  7. Kristian, I fully endorsed both, your original post and also your reply to me, and yes, Cesar´s comments only reinforces our common understanding.
    Best regards !

  8. aqui só pode se falar em ingles ^^?

    Bom vira Palmeirense deixa o Rangers pros gamba kkkkkkkkkkkk

    1. Pode falar a lingua que bem escolher! rsrs. E acho certíssimo: os gambás que fiquem com os Rangers. Abs e volte sempre, Eduardo!

      1. Só uma pergunta Kristian voce é sueco mesmo ou naturalizado ?

        Bom, voce reprensenta e muito nosso Palmeiras.

        😀

  9. This incident could’ve happened anywhere in the world and in a variety of situations. In Parintins (North of Brazil) they have this red and blue rivalry due to a 100 years history of competition surrounded by religious promises from both parties.

    Generally these gaffes just make everybody feel awkward but unfortunately, in some places here in Brazil, there are many club managers and press members that support these intolerance actions (eg the green prohibition) which reflect in some fans’ actions.

    For example, that absurd idea that Corinthians marketing had of painting the grass black in their stadium. It’s even hard to believe a marketing professional would think of something like this but even worse was to know that the majority of their board and political personal supported the idea as well as some journalists.

    FIFA’s directors for the World Cup were stunned by this silly idea and prohibited this nonsense.

    1. Excellent comments, thansk for taking the time to stop by and share with us! I do agree with you that it could have happened anywhere and anytime, but it’s undisputidly more likely to take places in some places than other. Cheers, volte sempre!

  10. Hey Kris, how did u get to contact him before the gambas? hehe anyway, u were amazing and this interview has already put out in Globo site for instance.

    Keep rockin!!

    1. Thanks, Saandroo! Well, in part I guess I got lucky, but I had to do some detective work, trying to get in contact via the club, with organized supporters of Celtic… In the end, there he was! And kindly agreed to do the interview. Cheers!

  11. Great interview! Good lucky for scot man next time, and has to be in our Palmeiras!

    In time, congratulations for your amazing job.

    Avanti Palestra!

  12. in brigton glasgow theres an asda supermarket that had 2 put up a blue asda sign as the locals all glasgow rangers fans wouldn’t allow a green 1 like every were else in the country 2 b put up or threatened 2 burn the shop down

    1. Well that is pretty hard core… That’s taking rivalry even forther. Although I understand that there are deeper motives for the rivalry between rangers and celtic than football, right?

      Thanks for visiting and sharing, Kelly!

  13. In the Gaviões da Fiel ( Corinthians suportters) you cant enter some place of them with traces green. That is then philosophy. Whether it’s is stripes, spots or drawings, nothing can be green.

    1. I know. We know. But a tourist wouldn’t know. And poor Kevin wasn’t even in the arquibancada, but in the VIP section….

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment, Diego! Volte sempre!

  14. Diego, I spent maybe 2 hours walking around the front of the stadium with thousands of Corinthians fans before the game and it was not a problem. I rate in the restaurant, went to the museum, looked at the stuff the sellers were selling. I think it all started with one fan at half-time and that started a hysteria.

  15. It was a very sad incident. I hope Mr. Kevin would understand that the passion of a football fan is not reasonable. Even though the Palmeiras fans have now embraced you, we’d all agree the same would happen with a Newcastle or Juventus fan wearing the club shirt in a Palmeiras game (black white uniform just like Corinthians). I know of similar things happening in many places in Europe. Anyway, I hope you can come back to Brazil again and feel welcome here, as it seems you have found yourself many friendly brazilians fellows now.

  16. I am a 3rd generation Rangers fan, attended the Corinthians v Cruz Azul game in March and also had a ticket to the VIP area. I am at a complete loss to understand why he wore his top to the game, especially as it was a VIP ticket.

    No class and as thick as mince, as we say in Scotland.

    (really enjoyed the game and pleased you went on to win the cup)

  17. A typical Celtic fan i’m afraid whole families of them go on holiday wearing the full strip every day for a fortnight including on flights, no suitcases required.The people of Brasil are lucky its too far away for 99.9 % of them.

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