Within days of the scandalous Paulistão final against Corinthians, Palmeiras were in possession of video footage showing Director of Refereeing of the São Paulo Football Federation (FPF) twice approaching one of the assistant referees by the sideline. This takes place while the main referee is on the pitch, trying to put into effect his decision to award Palmeiras a penalty. Shortly after, as we all now, the referee changed his ruling.
According to regulations, the Director of Refereeing, in this case Mr. Dionísio Roberto Domingos, is not allowed to enter the grounds while a match is taking place, much less address any of the referees.
Based on the video and the initial, unconvincing statements from the involved, Palmeiras’ legal department last week filed a request for the initiation of an investigation at the São Paulo Court of Justice for Sports (TJD-SP). A first hearing took place Tuesday, lasting eight hours, with statements from the five referees, the Refereeing Supervisor and the Director of Refereeing – the individual Palmeiras accuse as pivotal in bringing about the external interference.
Palmeiras are going all in. So much, the club has reinforced its team with a renowned criminal lawyer, Mr. José Luis Oliveira Lima. In addition, Palmeiras have hired the services of Kroll, one of the largest private investigation companies in the world, with headquarters in the USA and branches in some 30 countries, including Brazil. Though neither Palmeiras nor Kroll will comment, at least two Kroll representatives were present at the TJD hearing earlier this week, in addition to Mr Lima and Palmeiras’ regular lawyers. Kroll will present an independent analysis of events leading up to the reverted ruling on the pitch.
The TJD judge assigned to the case is expected to present his report by Monday 23rd April. Based on the report, a prosecutor and the Court president will then determine whether to put the case to the archives or de facto initiate proceeding, which could end up formally cancelling the final.
Mr. Lima spells it out. “Palmeiras want to lay out the truth of the matter. If that truth entails showing the Courts that there were external interference and that the match must be invalidated, then that is what Palmeiras will do. After all, it is in the regulations of the competition”.
On a side note, it has been gratifying to see how Palmeiras supporters have expressed their support for the club’s chosen route: not because of the Paulista title itself, but for the good of Brazilian football. However clear the evidence of external interference, the odds are not in Palmeiras’ favour and Palmeiras are likely to suffer direct and indirect consequences. Then again, there is the possibility that this is a turning point. That Palmeiras will act as a catalyst for substantial change. Hope never dies.