Exactly on this day, 100 years ago, Palmeiras played their first official match. Who could imagine that the little club, created less than two years earlier, would one day become Brazil’s biggest holder of national championship titles?
The Palestra Italia, as the club was known back then, was born on 26 August 1914 by Italian immigrants in São Paulo. In order to attract interest and players, the club went about advertising in the local Fanfulla newspaper, while arranging small, internal tournaments to select the best players. Training sessions followed, then a series of friendlies.
In 1916, the club Scottish Wanderers were kicked out of the “Paulista Association of Athletic Sports” for having divided the income of their matches between players – something forbidden in amateur leagues of the time. Palestra Italia seized the opportunity, grabbing the vacant spot in the championship after having committed to contribute financially to the renovation of a stadium where games were to be played. In addition to the Palestra, the league consisted of São Paulo, Santos, São Bento Athletic Association of Palmeiras, Ypiranga and Mackenzie.
On 13 May 1916, Fabbrini, Grimaldi, Bianco, Ricco, Fabbi II, De Biasi, Gobato, Valle II, Vescovini, Bernardini and Severino drew 1-1 with Mackenzie, Gobato scoring Palestra Italia’s first official goal. Ricco was the captain and Giuseppe Roberti, the coach. The draw against Mackenzie, last year’s runner-up, was considered a good result, Palestra having only a couple of known players in their young squad.
Palestra Italia ended the 1916 edition of the São Paulo championship in 6th place, the highlight of the campaign being a 4-2 victory over Santos.
Since that day a century ago, Palmeiras have played another 4.401 official games, according to the always excellent Instituto Palestrino de Estatística blog. Out of these, 2.305 victories and 1.087 draws, corresponding to 61% of points won (if adopting the current standards across the board, where a victory is rewarded three points).
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!