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Palmeiras qualified to the Paulistão semi-finals like a breeze, beating Novorizontino 3-1 (away) and 3-0 (home). The team is evolving game by game, Eduardo Baptista clearly understanding the squad he has at hand and players feeling confident about their leader. And although it is still early, there are hints of something else, which we have not seen in a rather long time at Palmeiras: the drive to play well the full 90 minutes and transform a good performance into an excellent one. With Borja and Guerra adapting to their new team and country, Palmeiras look stronger than ever.

São Paulo FC are through, and so are Corinthians. Today Monday, Santos and Ponte Preta battle it out for the last spot. Next weekend sees the first leg of the semi-finals, but who takes on who will only be known after the final whistle tomorrow.

Not that Palmeiras waste any energy thinking about possible upcoming Paulistão opponents: focus is on Wednesday’s bout against Peñarol in the third round of the Libertadores Cup group stage. Jean has been recovering well after the foot injury and is likely to be found on the bench against the Uruguayans.

bieber_allianz_croppedEnd of March, the pitch at the Allianz Parque was completely removed. Three shows took place in the first week of April: two performances by Justin Bieber and one by Elton John. Then, last Friday, some 14.000 square meters of grass was taken from a farm in Tremembé and installed at the arena. The stadium manager promises that the pitch will be ready by Wednesday, thanks to machines imported from the United States and Europe, capable of cutting a thicker slice of grass: 4.5cm instead of 1cm. The thicker cut allows for not only grass and root, but also part of the rooted soil. In theory, three days should be enough to extend the grass rolls, the pitch being ready for play already on the fourth day.
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Compared to the conventional model, where the pitch needs 30-45 days to reach ideal conditions, this is a huge step forward, albeit expensive: each swap costs approximately R$ 300.000 (US$ 95.000), with the arena constructor foreseeing another four swaps during the year. Those Bieber shows are clearly very lucrative. Palmeiras and sponsors cannot complain either: there has been tremendous visibility and branding, as indicated by the picture featuring the Canadian megastar wearing our jersey. That said, Palmeiras forced out of their home grounds time after another is unacceptable and we need better harmonisation of schedules, combined with a permanent solution addressing pitch quality. On the latter, let’s see how far this thick cut technique takes us.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras this morning signed 23-year-old defender Luan, from Rio de Janeiro club Vasco da Gama, on a five-year contract, the price tag coming in at R$ 10 million (US$ 3.2 million) for 60% of the player’s economic rights. While getting to know his new club’s training facilities, the 1.88m tall 2016 Olympic champion did not disguise his enthusiasm. “I’m so happy, this is a dream coming true. I am very motivated, I want to help Palmeiras and I want to evolve here at the club. I’m arriving with an open heart, a focused mind, on fire and crazy to play, to make the supporters happy”.

The newcomer, born in the city of Vitória, played with Fernando Prass at Vasco and considers Palmeiras’ keeper a fathers figure to him. “I was 18 when I turned professional, and he always passed on advice, helping me a lot.” Luan also admitted to having called Gabriel Jesus just a few days back: “I had no doubts really, and after Gabriel told me ‘Go, you’ll be very happy at Palmeiras’ I could nothing but sign”, he laughs.

Do Palmeiras need another defender? Yes, absolutely. Yerry Mina leaves for Barcelona after the 2018 World Cup, Vitor Hugo is likely to transfer to Europe in the next window, Edu Dracena is already 35 and Thiago Martins will stay in the medical department for at least five more months. Antônio Carlos and Luan is our future centre-lock. Palmeiras are ahead in the planning, already preparing the squad for the 2018 season.

Welcome, Luan: may you shine brightly at Palmeiras!
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Interviewed in September of 2015, owner/president of Crefisa and Faculdade das Américas Leila Pereira refuted rumours she held intentions to become president of Palmeiras. “I cannot run for president now. I only recently became a member of the club and the statues say a person needs to have completed two mandates in the Deliberative Council [before being eligible for presidency]”, she told a reporter of Diário de São Paulo. Mrs Pereira knew she was looking at, at least, 16 years to fulfil any aspirations of the sort: eight years of club membership before eligible for the Deliberative Council, then two turns there, each mandate spanning four years.

No small surprise then when Mustafá Contursi, one of the club’s most senior oligarchs, in February of 2016 announced Leila Pereira was not only a club member, but had been so since 1996. Mr Contursi claims having made her an honorary member that year, while he was president of Palmeiras. However, no records of such an act have been found. And even if they were, the statutes does not give the club’s president the mandate to appoint honorary members at will: the procedure is actually fairly complicated, culminating in a decision taken by the plenary of the DC.

However, faced with the explicit threat of a non-renewal of the extremely lucrative sponsorship deal with Crefisa/FAM unless Mrs Pereria was allowed to run for a seat, newly elected Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte granted Mr Contursi’s request for a revised entry date for Mrs Pereira. In Mr Galiotte’s thinking, the decision to bar Mrs Pereira was not his to make, but should be left to the DC, sometime after the voting (scheduled for early February) but before the newly elected took their seats in March. A few days after Mr Galiotte made his decision public, Palmeiras and Crefisa/FAM renewed their sponsorship agreement, worth an estimated 25% of Palmeiras’ total revenues in 2017-2018.

Why is having a political role at Palmeiras so important for Leila Pereira? Perhaps to please her husband and business partner José Roberto Lamacchia, a hard-core palmeirense (Pereira herself was born in Rio a Vasco supporter). Perhaps she enjoys the power rush. Perhaps it is in all the attention she receives while transiting from a very wealthy but anonymous businesswoman into someone who, in her own words, is recognized on the streets even outside of Brazil. Likely, there is a combination of the above and more; this unknown “more” factor making some of us rather nervous.

leila_mustafaIn any case, at the DC elections in February, Mrs Pereira did indeed run for a seat, as one of the candidates under Mustafá Contursi’s ticket. She was elected with a record 248 votes – several times the number she needed – and the extra votes spilled over to Mr Contursi, who thus reinforced his position in the DC with some 6-8 loyal names. In order to understand the impact of this, I quote Marcelo Santa Vicca: “The easiest way to understand how Mustafá Contursi’s head works is recognising he hates football and only cares for the social club”.

Today, 6 March, the Deliberate Council met to determine on the legitimacy of Mrs Pereira’s candidacy. On paper, a rather straightforward matter, one would think: void candidacy and therefore, void election. Nonetheless, she passed the trial like a breeze, only some 45 of the 228 gathered members of the DC opposing her inauguration.

The club´s statute was shredded in the most vulgar way. The immediate effect is the shame felt by many an honourable palmeirense, many of these outside the political sphere of the club. The medium to long-term effects are impossible to predict.

In addition to the above, the DC also elected two gentlemen as president and vice-president of the Council – Seraphim Del Grande and Carlos Faedo – both linked to Mr Contursi.

A moment of hesitation, and Palmeiras’ political landscape just recedes 15 years. Some thought the dragon had been slayed. It was not even sleeping.

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Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte and the club’s director of football Alexandre Mattos have spent days in Barcelona, working on an agreement with the Catalan club regarding centre-back Yerry Mina. Today, it was formally announced that Barcelona have agreed to extend their priority of buying Mina by a year, more precisely after the 2018 World Cup. The previous deadline was July 2017, smack in the middle of the Brazilian championship and the Libertadores Cup. Being able to keep the Colombian national throughout the season and more is excellent news for Palmeiras.

Yerry Mina arrived at the Verdão in May of 2016, after a dispute involving high-ranking teams in Europe. At the time, Mattos knew he could not compete with salary offers arriving from Germany, but he also knew Barcelona were monitoring Mina, likely to try a signing in one or two years’ time. Mattos contacted Barcelona, got the thumbs up, and then had Barcelona’s director of football call Mina up: “If you one day want to play for Barcelona, you must first head for our partner, head for a club we trust, and that is Palmeiras”.

In addition to the dealings involving the Colombian defender, Galiotte and Mattos advanced with negotiations aimed at a formal partnership between Palmeiras and Barcelona. Methodology of work, exchange programmes for coaches and youth division players were among the topics discussed. Stay tuned for further developments of this very promising alliance.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu flanked by Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte (right) and director of football Alexandre Mattos (left), with Barcelona vice-presidents Javier Bordas (far right) and Jordi Cardoner (far left).

 

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In Brazilian football in general, and at Palmeiras in particular, time is never on your side. Palmeiras maintained all key ingredients of last year’s successful mix, except for one: the coach. Cuca, for personal reasons, has taken a break from football. In mid-December, Eduardo Baptista was announced as his replacement for the 2017 season.

Baptista debuted in the Paulista state championship beating Botafogo/SP 1-0, then lost 1-0 away to Ituano. These results, and the rather poor football presented, was enough to have segments of Palmeiras supporters raise hell on social media and the ultras of Mancha Verde last Thursday, with the scorecard still at 0-0 against São Bernardo, chant “Hey, Eduardo, pay attention, we want championship titles!”, before requesting the return of Cuca. Palmeiras went on to beat São Bernardo 2-0, goals by Dudu and Jean.

The topic of the week has been “pressure”. Even a seasoned player like Michel Bastos says he was taken by surprise by the volume of demands for expressive results and progress this early in the season. Everyone at the club, from directors down to players, all say the same: implementing a new style of play takes time: the squad and Baptista need a few more weeks to make it work. The premature ruckus has of course been picked up by the media, only adding more heat.
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Although the São Paulo championship is a traditional tournament and obviously has its merits, one cannot deny that it primarily serves as a laboratory for modelling and tuning the squad ahead of the Brazilian championship, the Brazil Cup and international commitments (this year, in Palmeiras’ case, the Libertadores Cup). Being allowed a certain tranquillity at the beginning of the season, while conducting experiments, is crucial for the development of the team and the overall outcome throughout the year.

For some supporters, this is all bull. They feel performance is driven by pressure, and must surface quickly. More importantly, they stress their right to complain, as supporters, and as ticket holders. The effect of the pressure applied seems secondary to the right of exercising it: a curious standpoint from a segment who normally states “Palmeiras above everything” and “Eternal love”.

Last year, supporters filled the airport to wave off the squad ahead of an important away game. They also gathered outside the training facilities with flags, flares and instruments, players stepping off the bus to thank the crowds. A few weeks back, supporters in large numbers were at the airport a 6am to welcome Miguel Borja. The potential for supporters to influence outcomes, both positively and negatively, is a given.

Luckily, most seem to understand that Baptista and his men indeed need to be given time: while the ultras last Thursday expressed their dissatisfaction, a large majority of “regular” supporters at the Allianz Parque booed them down. 

We are less than two hours from kick-off. The team’s performance against Linense, away, will be the determining factor for any amount of tranquillity Baptista and the squad will enjoy ahead of next week’s derby against Corinthians.

Patience! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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lease fee

Sunday Palmeiras made their debut in the Paulistão, beating Botafogo/SP by the odd goal, signed Tchê Tchê. It was not a good game, as they never are in the beginning of the season. Still, one could note some differences in the marking, in the more careful ball possession, in the movement of full-backs. Eduardo Baptista is implementing his own style of play, and it will differ considerable from Cuca’s. Upcoming Sunday, away against Ituano, we have another opportunity to observe the transformation.

Tchê Tchê not only scored Sunday’s winner, but also suffered a small fracture to his left shoulder and is out for 4-6 weeks. Good thing Moisés seems fully recovered from the foot surgery and is training well.

Against Botafogo/SP, Zé Roberto played his 100th game in the Palmeiras jersey. Upcoming Sunday, it is Fernando Prass’ turn to celebrate his 200th appearance in green. Giants, both of them.

Speaking of giants: our “little giant” Dudu has extended his contract with Palmeiras for an additional two years, the contract now running until end of 2020. With the extension, his salary has increased and also the release fee.

You will frequently hear both club president Galiotte and director of football Mattos state that “more important than any signing, has been maintaining the squad intact”. One of the few remaining weaker cards from last years’ squad, defensive midfielder Rodrigo, was today announced by Sport on a one-year loan with an option to buy. However, in relation to key players, Palmeiras have made an additional effort, just like with Dudu: a total of six players, including Yerry Mina, have extended their contracts. The hiked release fees work as a deterrent for other clubs, while salary increases are both a recognition of a player’s value and a means to keep him happy as new signings arrive and the inevitable salary comparisons happen.

Today, the Palmeiras squad contains eight players who have served Brazil’s national (Jean, Vitor Hugo, Dracena, Arouca, Zé Roberto, Felipe Melo, Michel Bastos and Dudu); two Colombia’s (Yerry Mina and soon-to-be-announced Miguel Borja), one Paraguay’s (Barrios) and one Venezuela’s (Alejandro Guerra). That is twelve players of National squad quality, twelve!

The squad is not only qualified but also decent-sized, which is important considering the potentially many games and the long travel distances involved in Palmeiras’ 2017 campaign. If Palmeiras were to reach the finals in every competition, a staggering 80 games would be played in the season: São Paulo Championship (18), Libertadores Cup (14), Brazil Cup (8), Brazilian Championship (38), Club World Cup (2).

Now stay tuned for the official announcement of Miguel Borja.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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by Douglas Monaco*
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A likely, eminent mixing of football sponsorship with club politics frightens some and leads others to, tentatively, pull legitimacy from a late XX century example. Clarification is in order.

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Concerns about Palmeiras and Crefisa/FAM
On these early days of 2017, one theme has drawn the attention of Brazilian football followers in general and Palmeiras supporters in particular: the recent growth in prominence of Crefisa/FAM both in their role as sponsors of the team and in their political aspirations within the club.

The sponsorship contract is about to be renewed: a rumoured R$ 80-100 million (US$ 25-31) per year for the next two years, with additional bonuses for titles. If numbers are correct, it is by far the most valued sponsorship contract in today’s Brazilian football scene.

In the political realm, it is a given fact that the sponsor’s owner – Mrs. Pereira – is running for a seat in the club’s Deliberative Council with, some say, the ultimate goal to one day become club president.

This likely enmeshing of sponsorship with sharing in the club’s governance has made some – supporters, members etc. – worry because, as it stands today, there is no clarity about the configuration such a mixture of roles would end up having.

Another contentious point is the uncertainty about Mrs. Pereira having or not complied with all membership requisites to run for the Council, let alone to aspire becoming the president. Membership time needed to run for council is 8 years and then another 8 years as counsellor to be an eligible presidency candidate.

So, was she to be successful in these elections, her political involvement would be marred both by controversy in its functioning and by a possible breach of the club’s bylaws in its beginning.

Not good omens.

Some try to assuage these concerns, primarily eyeing the growth in cash injection that the renewed sponsorship contract would bring – however politically fuelled. They do so by citing the Parmalat Era as a precedent in this kind of arrangement in the club; a precedent that would legitimize the current situation.

In their 1992-2000 Partnership, Parmalat not only contributed millions of US dollars but was also involved in Palmeiras’ management. Why not allow Crefisa/FAM the same freedom now? the argument goes.

This article does not seek to question nor validate any current or future arrangement: after all, we do not know what it will look like if, and when, it comes into existence. This is simply an attempt to provide an accurate point of comparison. Those wanting to validate the present by quoting the past, must have a clear picture of what the past looked like.
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Description of the Partnership

Below, the general characteristics of the Palmeiras/Parmalat partnership:

1. Per the contract, Parmalat paid Palmeiras a monthly standard sponsorship fee and, simultaneously it bought highly qualified players and made them available to the club, without charging for it.

2. When these players were to be sold, Palmeiras had the right to a percentage in the profit – 20% – as a “showcase fee”.

3. The basic advertising spaces granted by Palmeiras were connected to the football team and, for some time, to the volleyball team: the company’s brand was printed alone in the chest-side of these sports’ uniforms.

4. There were also advertising spaces in the stadium: during a lengthy period, Parmalat’s brand was the only one in the placards around the pitch. Later, other brands were re-allowed.

5. The agreement also established co-management of the football department. Decisions about organizing, planning, directing and controlling of the football department were always to be shared among participants of the club and of the company, two each.

6. The figures were astronomical for the Brazilian market that, at the beginning of the Partnership, was still suffering hyperinflation:

  • The “standard sponsorship” raised a relatively reasonable monthly income to Palmeiras: 750,000 cruzeiros (the Brazilian currency at that time)
  • The player signings were outstanding: in 1992, Sorato, Cuca, Maurilio, Zinho and Mazinho; in 1993, Roberto Carlos, Antonio Carlos, Edilson, Edmundo and Cleber; in 1994, Rincon, Rivaldo, Alex Alves and Paulo Isidoro; in 1995, Cafu, Mancuso, Muller, Nilson, Djalminha and Luisão; in 1996, Junior, Sandro, Viola and the return of Rincon; in 1997, Oseas, Euller, Alex and the return of Zinho; in 1998, Arce, Paulo Nunes and Junior Baiano; in 1999, the return of Cesar Sampaio and of Evair, Asprilla… it’s a lengthy list of excellent players.
  • The average cost per signing varied between 700k and 3.5 million US dollars. Zino and Roberto Carlos cost around 700 thousand each, Antonio Carlos 1.4 million, Edilson 1.3 million, Edmundo 1.8 million, Rivaldo 2.5 million, Cafu 3.5 million (plus a fine imposed by a restrictive clause SPFC added to Cafu’s sale contract that forbade him to sign with Palmeiras for at least 1 year), Djalminha and Luisão cost together 5,5 million, Paulo Nunes a little above 3 million etc.

7. The results were remarkable: 3 State League wins, 2 National League wins, 2 Rio-São Paulo cups, 1 Brazil Cup, 1 Mercosur Cup, 1 Libertadores Cup; 10 titles in 8 years!
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Analysis and theoretical foundations

Beyond the facts and figures, it is important to retrieve the meaning of the agreement for the Partners, i.e. which benefit they derived from the relationship.

For Parmalat, Palmeiras meant:

1. Quick visibility: a conventional sponsorship contract – one in which no players are lent by the sponsor to the sponsored – would have brought a degree of exposure significantly lower than the incandescent visibility the Partnership generated at the time. The media agency then in charge of tracking citations, said the number of spontaneous media was equivalent to 20 times paid ads in the same media outlets.

2. Brand positioning: the Parmalat logo and its attributes were perceived in a qualified way by the consumers’ market in general and also by media companies.

3. Impact on general growth of the company: the massive growth in Parmalat’s buying of milk in the primary market and the acquisition of factories were viable due to the rapidly increased visibility and brand positioning experienced by the company.

4. Impact on sales: milk and dairy products had tremendous expansion in sales.

5. Football as a profit centre: sometime down the line, the transactions with players generated net cash for the company. Sources at the time stated that parts of this net cash were reinvested in the Partnership.

For Palmeiras, Parmalat meant:

1. Human resources: quality players that Palmeiras could only dream of signing in those days.

2. Direct income: the sponsorship fee plus the showcase fee.

3. Impact of the other income sources: tickets, TV broadcasting and general football income were enhanced due to the technical level reached by the team – proportional to Palmeiras’ tradition – and made possible by the Partnership.

4. Managerial capacity: Parmalat’s expertise in managing sports was much more qualified than Palmeiras’ at the time. In the context of the Partnership, that competence was made available to the club.

5. Football administration was segregated from other activities in the club: the Partnership allowed the segregation and that alone mitigated the impact of the club’s politics on the management of the football team.

6. The presence of a blockholder:

  • In business, it is generally accepted that a blockholder is seen as a potentially positive factor in corporate governance.
  • The colloquial expression that portrays this situation says “the eyes of the master fattens his cattle”.
  • For club football, a blockholder is not a usual character because managers have a mandate and even the highest-level directors are not “owners of the club” (though some seem to believe they are….).
  • The system of co-management emulated the blockholder situation, thus making the decisions more aligned to football’s utmost purpose: convincingly wining.

This reciprocity in gains between the partners is recognized by the Economics of Contracts – a research line – as a bilateral dependency, a situation in which partners, by means of a contract, can extract continuous gains in a relationship without the need to a formal integration between the parties.
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Conclusion
As seen above, the Palmeiras/Parmalat Partnership was constituted by a series of explicit rights and obligations between the parties, kept intact their legal constitution, had solid theoretical foundations, and produced concrete results for both participants.

Any comparison between that Partnership and the current situation involving Palmeiras and Crefisa/FAM must depart from the above-mentioned characteristics.
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CAMPEONATO BRASILEIRO DE 1994.
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*Douglas Monaco is 57 years old, Brazilian, and the biological child of an Italian man and a Brazilian women. Early in life, Erasmo was adopted by a family of Italian descent: becoming a passionate palmeirense was definitely his destiny. Holding two university degrees (Economics and Administration), he works as project auditor for a Dutch humanitarian entity.

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This text is a slightly modified version of the one originally posted, in Portuguese, at the Verdazzo! website.

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From time to time, you will find contributions from guest writers, on a variety of topics, here at Anything Palmeiras. Feel free to leave your feedback – either directly in the comments field or contacting the author.

And if you yourself would like to contribute to Anything Palmeiras, enter in contact through anything.palmeiras (at) gmail.com.

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