In 1942, during World War II and because of a decree issued by President Getúlio Vargas, banning any organisation from using names related to the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan), Palestra Italia was compelled to change their name – becoming Palestra São Paulo; “palestra” being a Greek word and thus not violating the governmental decree.
The change of name did not prove enough to soothe political and sporting antagonists: under the threat of having to forfeit all the club’s assets and be expelled from the championship that they currently were leading, Palestra had no choice but to change their name a second time. On the night before the last game of the State championship, scheduled for 20 September 1942, the Palestra board of directors held a heated meeting. With the debate reaching its peak, Dr. Mario Minervino took to the floor and asked club Secretary, Dr. Pascoal W. Byron Giuliano, to register in the minutes:
They don’t want us to be Palestra, so then we shall be Palmeiras – born to be Champions.
The following day, tensions flared. The final match was against São Paulo Futebol Clube, a club who’s directors openly played the treason card in relation to “foreign” sport associations and had already taken over the facilities of “Deutscher Sport Club” through a forced merger. Now, SPFC was laying claim to the assets of the former Palestra Italia.
Palmeiras entered the field carrying the Brazilian flag under the leadership of Army Captain Adalberto Mendes. Not long after the initial blow of the whistle, Palmeiras were leading 3-1. Next, a penalty was called in Palmeiras’ favour. At that moment, SPFC decided Palmeiras were indeed an enemy of the homeland and pulled their side off the field amid jeers from all spectators, even the club’s own fans. The next day, newspapers sold out as everybody wanted to see the photograph of Palmeiras entering the pitch with the headline “A Leader Dies, A Champion is Born.”
20 September 1942. A date in history. But a date that carries pride, determination and moral fibre into current days, that defines us, that defines Palmeiras.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!