João Roberto Gobatto – the unsung hero

Unless you raise pigs for a living, chances are slim you know what’s special with tomorrow. But as a palmeirense, you need to know that in Brazil, 17 August is the day of the pig.

Palmeiras’ official mascot is the parakeet, but ever since Palmeiras player Jorginho on 10 November 1986 posed for the Placar football magazine holding a piglet in his arms, the animal occupies a special place in the collective mind of all palmeirenses.

placar_10.11.1986The unorthodox picture has an explanation: Palmeiras players and supporters alike had for quite some years been called “pigs” by rivalling supporters, and especially by corintianos. As the story goes, an incident in 1969, involving the death of two Corinthians players in a car accident and Palmeiras’ inflexible attitude toward letting the rival add two new players to the draft, started it all.

João Roberto Gobatto, director of marketing at Palmeiras in the eighties, came up with an idea to neutralize the commonly used offenses: embrace the pig. His idea was rejected for three years, he became the laughing stock, lost his position as director, was even accused of being a corintiano. Yet, the concept of “if you can’t beat them, join them” started to sink in. A meeting was called where directors, players and representatives from the main organised supporter groups drew up a plan. Already in the following game, against Santos, the Palmeiras section was chanting the pig’s praise. With each game the chanting grew louder, stronger. Shortly after,  Jorginho personified the change of attitude on the cover of Placar. The pig, although never officially, had turned into Palmeiras’ second mascot.

Palmeiras was born on 26 August. Warm up to the festivities already tomorrow, because also tomorrow is our day: 17 August, the day of the pig.

Oink che la vittoria è nostra!

— ooo —

NOTE: in November of 2016, after three decades, Palmeiras officialised The Pig as the club’s second mascot, naming it “Gobatto”. Read more here.

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