#FreeScarpa – understand the case

According to Brazilian legislation, more than three months of salaries and/or benefits delayed, and a player can trigger the courts, seeking a release from his contract with the club. In late December of last year, Gustavo Scarpa did just that, Fluminense owing him the 13th salary and vacation additional since 2016, four months of payment for image rights and six months of social security contributions.

In mid-January, the labour courts granted Scarpa an injunction, releasing him from his contract with the carioca club. A few days later, on 15 January, the offensive midfielder signed with Palmeiras.

Exactly two months later, the injunction was overturned by the Rio de Janeiro labour courts. Scarpa was legally returned to Fluminense, not allowed to play nor train with Palmeiras. Ever since 15 March, Scarpa has been training on his own, in his home town, awaiting a ruling by judge Dalva Macedo, assigned to the case.

With the passing of the days, weeks and months, palmeirenses increased demands for a solution, pressuring the labour courts. Last week, a campaign headed by Anything Palmeiras placed the #FreeScarpa hashtag at the top of twitter’s Trending Topics in Brazil.
Yesterday night, judge Macedo made her ruling public, and it is quite a jaw-dropper. In short, she argues that Scarpa on several previous occasions accepted to remain at Fluminense and even renew his contract, in spite of similar delays. She consequently concludes that the salary delay cannot be the real motif behind Scarpa’s desire to leave Fluminense now. With that, she rules in Fluminense’s favour.

The judge’s rationale is perverse. It is like telling a battered wife she has no right to seek a divorce, due to having already endured the abuse during some length of time.  

Gustavo Scarpa will certainly seek an appeal. This will take weeks, months. Fluminense is desperate for cash (today, yet another article in the papers, Fluminense players and coach complaining about delayed salaries) and Palmeiras might consider negotiate a deal, involving money and/or players in exchange for Scarpa. Morally reprehensible, but perhaps the only viable solution for both player and club under the circumstances. Exactly what Fluminense (and the judge?) were aiming at.

As true as ever, the cliché: Brazil is not for beginners. To be continued.

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