Archive for the ‘Guest writers’ Category

With roughly US$ 60 billion being pumped into sports through sponsorship deals every year, one would assume the average business model to be solid and well defined, securing that companies benefit from their investments. Well, think again. Research on the topic is surprisingly scarce and the main findings of the studies that do exist, surprising by their own merit.

Do sponsorship deals increase brand visibility and value? Sales? Company net worth? How could these and other indicators be better studied, fueling more qualified discussion on the topic?

Below, Douglas Monaco gives us his take on a highly relevant article, “Does football sponsorship improve company performance?”, inserting it into the context of the current (for Brazilian standards) controversial Palmeiras x Crefisa/FAM partnership. Enjoy!

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Improving the discussions on sponsorship of football clubs

  1. Introduction

In the last weeks, the relationship between Palmeiras and Crefisa/FAM has generated a new wave of media attention.

On the one hand, people have called for financial fair play, claiming that Palmeiras’ spending on players has to be curbed to avoid an otherwise uneven, unbalanced situation in which the tournaments will be tilted towards the club, artificially increasing the club’s odds of winning.

On the other hand, there is extensive coverage of the alleged rewriting of some parts of the partnership contract. According to repercussions in general, the changes would have been triggered by the Brazilian IRS (Internal Revenue Service) investigation of how Crefisa/FAM was accounting for the amounts paid in signing of players.
The fact is that since its beginning in January 2015, the partnership has been a customary subject in the TV sports news and internet sports outlets. The comments are purportedly making a technical assessment of football clubs’ sponsorship as a theme.

The truth though is that these discussions have generated much fuss, but nothing practical. In the words of the late and illustrious Palmeiras’ supporter Joelmir Betting, “much heat and no light”, an expression that used to pop up in his always clarifying chronicles.

Propelled by the last wave of comments, this post will bring to the discussion something unusual so far: results from a peer reviewed paper published in a scientific journal specialized in sports management. The paper was published in December 2016 and its results – rather counter-intuitive – are based on a 6-year analysis of 78 companies sponsoring clubs in 7 (seven) of the major European leagues.

The objective of the study has been to measure the effectiveness of sponsorship to the sponsor, i.e. does sponsoring a football club make the sponsor more successful in relation to key indicators like sales and market capitalization?

The goal of the post though is not so much to emphasize the results, but to suggest an approach to discussing sponsorship in football: analytical rigour, conceptual formalism and relentless objectivity. By improving the analyses, conclusions about the subject will at once be more reliable and more useful.

  1. Results experienced by 78 European sponsors between 2006 and 2012

2.1 Context of the study

There are many reasons to study the effectiveness of sports sponsorship to the sponsoring company.

First of all, according to the Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football, sports sponsorship as a business is estimated to have drawn in 62 billion dollars in investments during 2017, with football assumed to have received sizable parts of it.

Beyond this quantitative aspect though, the notoriety of the phenomenon in the whole world seems to be only increasing. Brands – well-known as well as up and coming – are seen in shirts of leagues in a variety of sports, with football as a front runner in the context.

Given this combination of economic size and prominence, the question is unavoidable: does such a cost draining, prominent activity actually generate value for those investing in it? Do sponsors increase sales, become more profitable, do they increase their wealth due to their investments in sponsorship?

One basic difficulty in studying the phenomenon is to reach a consensus in defining sponsorship: is sponsorship “paying to be seen”? should it allow the investor a say in sponsored entity’s affairs?

Studies about the sponsorship seem to follow a line of applying surveys to capture public opinion’s perception of sponsor, detect consumption intentions, mapping the repercussions of brand visibility both in conventional as well as in social media.

The study reviewed in this post adopts the usual “pay for visibility” concept. But it takes a different method: instead of the surveys, it attempts to quantitatively measure the impact of amounts paid by sponsors on their result-variables, things observable in the sponsors’ balance sheets.

2.2 Results of the study

The main conclusion of the study is: for the six years analyzed, there is no evidence that investing in the sponsorship of football clubs brings measurable benefits to the sponsor’s balance sheet.

And this finding is verified for practically all countries analyzed by the study. The sampled 78 companies are present in clubs of England, Spain, France, Italy, Scotland, Netherlands and Turkey, seven of the main European leagues.

The study uses regression analysis to measure causality between invested value and performance of the company. For all tests made, the result is that there is simply no causation, i.e. companies that invest in sponsorship don’t achieve better economic outcomes than those that don’t invest in sponsorship.

The variables of the model are quite straightforward: total amount invested in each year versus result-variables in the following year. The result-variables are of two kinds: sales income and market capitalization.

The choice for sales-income aims at reflecting the effect of sponsorship over the sponsor business primarily in the next year. The choice for market capitalization – share price multiplied by the number of shares in circulation – captures the expectation that the capital market has about the general profitability of the company also for the future years, so measuring the impact of the whole enterprise strategy, inclusive the investment in sponsorship.

Results relative to Sales

The regression analysis used – considered a powerful tool to test this type of quantitative relationship between variables – makes important methodological adaptations aiming at vulnerabilities intrinsic of the situation, e.g. the “chicken and egg problem”: are companies that sell much more prone to sponsoring? Or companies that sponsor end up selling more?

In spite of allowing for this limitation, in its almost totality, the results indicate that there is no impact of sponsorship over sales.

The only admissible exception is the league as a differentiator: the French league presented a slight impact on sales. If this aspect shows to be replicable, a stream of research may be indicated.

Another aspect analyzed by the report was how “acting for the first time as a sponsor” could make the company more likely to benefit from the investments. Unfortunately, here too, results don’t show any significant impact on sales.

Results relative to Market Capitalization

For this variable, the results are uniform in all circumstances: investing in sponsorship has decreased the market capitalization of the studied sponsors.

Market capitalization is a long-term indicator that reflects the average expectations of the capital market investors. Capitalization takes into consideration the expected net cash flows, discounted by the adequate rate, when income and payments are estimated, inclusive of the payments to sponsorship.

Losses in market capitalization translate into actual reduction in a company’s net worth, i.e. the loss in market value has to generate an entry – debit and credit – in the books that will be reflected in the company’s balance sheet.

The study does not give details of which countries show more pronounced losses, neither which sectors of the economy the sponsors belong to. Still, the correlation is deprecating enough to prompt a reevaluation of the strategy.

Other results

The study also controls for the global economic crisis of 2008 – to avoid the crisis being disguised into the lack of impact by sponsorship.

Another important point was to test which characteristics make a company more likely to sponsor: size and type of ownership are the factors more associated in the study.

Bigger companies and companies individually controlled seem to be more prone to engage in a sponsorship contract. Companies from the financial sector, those of more pulverized ownership and government companies are less likely to.

The study cogitates that the utility function of the sponsor owner seems to benefit more from sponsoring than any commercial benefit the company may derive from the contract.

The most unexpected statement made by the study is that “football sponsoring is more charity than business”.

2.3 Comments about the results

For many reasons, the results of this study have to be considered as surprising, to say the least.

First of all, the global investment in sponsorship is huge. So, there seems to be a strong contradiction as how can so much investment be made into something that doesn’t produce return?

The geographical and contextual reach of the study accentuates the surprise nature of the results.

In “contradiction to the contradiction”, the Brazilian case seems, to some extent, to confirm the study as in late years, Brazilian clubs have faced more difficulty in recruiting new sponsors than in the past. The cases of “clean jerseys” and one-off sponsorships have been more common.

The exception in Brazil really appears to be Crefisa/FAM whose amounts invested have only grown since January 2015. Beyond the increase in value, the scope of the investments has also varied – not only the brand is shown in the commercial properties of the club, but football costs have been directly covered by the company, e.g. signings and paychecks of certain players.

Not only have the investments grown: the general impression is that the visibility of Crefisa/FAM has been catapulted to record heights – much like Parmalat’s in the 90s. In addition, the sponsor’s performance data seem to indicate strong practical impact of the partnership. According to internet information published[1] at the beginning of 2017, the Crefisa/FAM group enjoyed a 30% increase in the enrollment of new students, coupled with the acquisition of 400,000 square meters of land in the eastern zone of the city of São Paulo, where a new campus will be built.

All this strengthen the impression that the partnership between Palmeiras and Crefisa/FAM could be an outstanding exception to the 78 companies study; with the obvious caveat that further verification regarding sales and net worth of the sponsor is necessary in order to affirm the exception.

  1. Final comments

Though not conclusive, the results reviewed in this article offer important insights into understanding sponsorship as a phenomenon.

For the time being, despite the huge investments made in sport sponsorship worldwide, one quantitative study covering a highly significant sample of European leagues indicates that sponsoring a football club does not constitute good business strategy.

At least not in a conventional way, i.e. paying a fee, inserting your brand and expecting your profits or at least your sales to grow as a result.

Counter-examples to the reviewed study would have to be researched.

But cases like the Palmeiras x Parmalat in the 1990s and Palmeiras x Crefisa/FAM now suggest that to derive tangible benefits, the level of investment must be above average and that apart from exhibiting the brand in the club’s commercial properties, the sponsor must somehow share in the business of club’s football department, vis a vis the co-management experiment with Parmalat and the signing of players by Crefisa/FAM currently taking place at Palmeiras.

Another aspect that the 78 companies study highlights is the “satisfying the utility function of the sponsor’s owner” as the primary goal of conventional sponsorship.

Interestingly, the occasional strengthening of this hypothesis – by further studies – could prove right the “benefactor” accusation that has victimized Palmeiras in the Crefisa/FAM partnership. Maybe, the so much criticized arrangement is actually a model to be followed instead of the “wrong example” to be avoided.

Anyway, what the remarks above suggest is that we’re still at an incipient stage in the scientific knowledge about sponsorship in sports/football.

Further studies will prove these and or other remarks right or wrong. Whatever the final results, what matters is that they be reached with appropriate methodology in a way that lends legitimacy and credibility to the output.

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Reviewed article

“Does football sponsorship improve company performance?”

European Sport Management Quarterly, 2016. Vol 16, no. 2, pp. 129-147. Published by Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Written by Iuliia Naidenova, Petr Parshakov and Alexey Chmykhov; all from the Laboratory of Intangible-driven Economy, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Perm, Russia

[1] http://www.1news.com.br/noticia/5629/futebol-brasileiro/leila-pereira-comemora-sucesso-em-parceria-com-palmeiras-confira-os-lucros-das-empresas-07022017


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by Douglas Monaco*
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.

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.
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!
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.
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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*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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by Douglas Monaco*

The complexities of running a football enterprise – be it a club or a stock market listed team – are severe and require a permanent eye to innovation and a determined preservation of the knowledge base upon which the entity reaches its successes.

This article draws on lessons from the years 1992-1999 – known in Brazilian football circles as the Parmalat Era – to make the case for a knowledge management – KM – system to be implemented at São Paulo based, Brazilian side Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras.

The only real source of sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge.

Management guru Peter Drucker

In our paper, we define KM as a collection of processes that includes knowledge generation, storage, transfer, and usage, and whose aim is to increase an organization’s value for its stakeholders. In essence, we can say that KM is a process of ensuring that the right knowledge is available to the right people at the right time[1].

Caveat: by making the case for the KM system, the article does not imply certainty that Palmeiras isn’t presently building one. Such certainty would require a level of access to internal processes that this author does not possess. The purpose here is to advocate for the importance of it not being overlooked. In case there is one already “in the oven”, all the better!


Palmeiras is repositioning itself to deal with football’s complexities
The complexity of running a football enterprise has always been there. Though in the beginning, this feature wasn’t as prominent as it is today, it’s known now that those that are slow in recognizing the trends tend to lag and the longer the delay, the costlier the catch-up.

Palmeiras is such a case as we the supporters know all too well: for one set of clear examples of the catch-up costs, simply look at the team’s performance between the years 2000 and 2014.

Its recently outgoing president said many times during his two two-year mandates “the champion of the XX century has not yet arrived to the XXI century”.

The current state of the club though is one of strong development and bodes well for the future performance. Here are some current conditions:

  1. Cash position is relatively strong and the predicted outgoing cash-flow composition is well balanced between debt repayment and operating expenditures.
  2. The sources of funding are varied and growing for the coming years: game-tickets (home stadium is frequently sold out), “supporters’ club membership” fee, sponsorship, broadcasting rights, licensed products etc.
  3. The team won two major national titles in 2015 and 2016 – the cup and the league respectively.
  4. The current team is strong and the capacity to sign well-rated players is there.
  5. The infrastructure processes have been constantly adopting state of the art practices in physiology, nutrition, orthopedics, performance management, people management, recruiting of players, administrative controls etc.
  6. The brand is probably at peak level, historically speaking, and supporters’ enthusiasm and adherence grows and strengthens by the day!

So, given this internal scenario, one can surely foresee a forever successful future for Palmeiras, right? Well, obviously not, primarily because risk is inherent to any human activity. And on top of this basic condition, the fact is that the prediction would still require important measures before it could be taken at face value.

Threats recognition and comparison with the Parmalat Era
What one can say is that the current situation resembles that of a good seed that was sowed in 2013 and begun germinating. Then, it almost died in 2014, but picked up again, bore some fruits in 2015 and many more in 2016!

Now, if the current transformation Palmeiras is undergoing is like a good plant, it must be guarded against weeds and ecosystem predators that might suffocate its development. To be sure, there are many potential problems – the political one being a well-known “batrachian-plague” that haunts “Palmeiras’ garden” since late seventies.

But, apart from politicking and its agro-zoo metaphors, most threats relate to potential scarcity of cash and of resources, i.e. if the funding sources begin to dry up, consequently the infrastructure risks deteriorating, as well as does the ability to sign high level players.

So, a massive amount of effort must be concentrated on securing the club’s purchase power by protecting the current funding sources and prospecting new ones. I am sure many within the club are busy doing it.

There is one step though that seems to be overlooked and would mean a great deal to safeguard the current developments; one that doesn’t necessarily require lots of funding, whose triggering should be relatively fast and whose existence would represent a permanent defense against occasional scarcities. 

Before discussing the point, let’s briefly remember another “Palmeiras’ spring” that seemed then to foster a new age for the club, but whose promises faded with the end of the partnership that gave the period its name “the Parmalat Era”.

Then as now, we had flooding streams of cash coming in, we had star players – every year a package of new signings was a fixture in the supporters’ calendar – the team won numerous cups and championships, brand recognition and association were strong.

Then as now, hopes were high that Palmeiras would never again be “in the queue” for its turn to raise a trophy. Well, that “age” ended basically in 1999 right before the drought in titles mentioned a few paragraphs above (2000-2014) and was followed also by the humiliation of the club being relegated twice – 2002 and 2012.

The case for the knowledge management system
The point missing then, that we – “crossfingerly” – hope will not be missed this time was the skill to absorb the competencies brought in by Parmalat.

Production management, players’ selection, group management, brand exposure, budget management etc. were all processes in which Palmeiras had been behind for many years and that Parmalat exceled at.

km-elementsWe knew then that at some point, the partnership would be over and the money it brought with it would dry out. Therefore, we should have used that experience to LEARN from it and, on top of occasional financial surpluses the period could leave in its trail, the most important legacy would have been the know-how absorbed by the club,  allowing it to replicate methods and not bury itself in failures for the following 15 years.

Okay sure, now Palmeiras is investing in the infrastructure piece and considerable amounts of cash flow are guaranteed for the coming 8 years – from Globo and Esporte Interativo.

But the pressing question is: are all new practices being properly learned and documented? Are we sure that the respective competencies are being absorbed? Just as an example, we know that one of the determinants of the 2015 and 2016 titles was Football Director Alexandre Mattos’ expertise on talent search and deal negotiation; another determinant is Cicero Souza’s skill on what people call “handling the dressing room”, i.e. the people management techniques aimed at keeping players protected from problems that can distract/disunite them.

So, given their importance, are we ready for the situation of them being snatched from our pay roll? We hear/read in the great grapevine of current day – the internet – that both have recently been approached by other clubs and preferred to remain with Palmeiras. How many more attempts will be needed to get them to change their minds?

And this goes to all great professionals currently employed by Palmeiras.

The proposition here is that we build a solid knowledge management system at Palmeiras that documents all this expertise and makes it available to the hired employee of the day.

Of course, there are personality traits that will never be transferable – mostly the players’ skills and the trainers’ game plan capacities. But, there certainly are ways to make much – if not most – of knowledge currently being applied learnable and replicable by new employees.

Doing this will greatly increase Palmeiras’ capacity to make the current situation perennial and satisfy the gigantic and growing legion of Palmeiras’ supporters, avoiding that the current windfall does not turn into another “flight of the chicken”, to use a Brazilian expression.

The benefits of such an implementation are abundantly documented in the respective literature[2]. All that it takes is for Palmeiras to make the move and adopt one more innovation that will greatly enhance its capacity to make the current success perennial.

May the new president pay heed to the opportunity and lay the foundation that may make the difference for generations to come.

This is certainly my new year’s wish!


[1] Knowledge Management Audit in a Higher Educational Institution: A Case Study”. By Robert Biloslavo and Anita Trnavcevic, published in Knowledge and Process Management Vol 14 issue 4, year 2007.

[2] Two examples of recently published practical literature on the theme: “The knowledge manager’s handbook: a step by step guide to embed effective knowledge management in your organization” published in 2016 by Kogan Page; and “Designing a successful KM strategy: a guide for the KM professional” published in 2014 by Information Today.

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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.

 __ __ __

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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by Erasmo München*

The standing ovation – a good 40 seconds long – offered to Cleiton Xavier in Allianz Parque on Saturday May 14, 2016 when he was substituted after scintillating performance in the convincing Palmeiras’ win against Atletico Paranaense may reveal more than simply homage to a player’s good day.

valdasCleiton’s history with the club bears some similarities with that of another player that left the club in August 2015: Valdivia. One of the most controversial subjects Palmeiras’ supporters faced between 2010 and 2015 was how to view the Chilean – was he a curse or a blessing? In any case, Saturday’s chapter has probably more to do with differences than similarities between the two players.

Chilean midfielder Valdivia – born in Venezuela due to his parents temporary living in that country – had had a prolific and successful stint with the club between 2006 and 2008, starring the win of the São Paulo championship of the latter year.

Since his departure in the second half of that year, there was a feeling among supporters he could have stayed longer and won more cups with the club. So, when in 2010 his return was announced, there was great optimism and also a sense of relief as the club was missing the type of talent that he possesses.

Well, history is known how he behaved and, how “often” he was fielded – around 42% of the games – the number of decisive matches he missed, how expensive each of his effective moves ended up being.
His escapade to Disney World right after the 2014 World Cup cost Palmeiras the possibility of recouping some of the costs in the form of a transfer fee to an UAE club. To many supporters that earned him the nickname “Valdisney”.

Then, came the quality and consistency shown playing for his country’s national team in Copa America 2015 that made people sigh “wow if we could have that playmaker at least 75% of the games, Palmeiras’ performance would be transformed”. All to be frustrated by his refusal of the attempts made by Palmeiras to renew his contract on a variable remuneration basis.

Due to all these practically never ending hiccups, to many Palmeiras’ supporters he was definitely a curse. A bad professional who was using the club as launching pad or something in that line. To many others though, he was a blessing: “mago Valdivia” (Valdivia, the magician) whose misdemeanors should be minimized in the name of a seemingly unjustifiable hope that, at any time, he could pull off tricks on the pitch that would give the team a win.

Without fueling the controversy again since he’s gone and, reliable sources guarantee, has ZERO chances of returning, let’s compare his case with that of his successor in bearing jersey number 10, Cleiton Xavier.

Cleiton’s current contract with Palmeiras started in January 2015 and it constitutes his second stint with the club, having worn our jersey between January 2009 and mid 2010 before leaving for Ukraine’s Metallist.

In his first contract he had not won any title and probably his most remarkable achievement was the qualifying goal scored against Chile’s Colo Colo in an away game – the last of the group phase – that took Palmeiras to the last 16 of Copa Libertadores in 2009.

The goal is still revered by 10 out of 10 Palmeiras’ supporter not only given its meaning, but the making of the goal itself: a 35 meter-long shot that ended up in the left upper corner of the goal, right where post and bar meet each other – in Brazilian “footballese” that spot is called the owl’s nest”. Absolutely spectacular. And Cleiton’s reaction, his running, shouting etc. in celebration is still seen as an example of a player’s expression of feelings for a club.

Unfortunately, Cleiton did not win any title: in 2009, we lost the Libertadores, lost the Paulista, lost the Brasileirão, came 2010, the team lost momentum, the trainer was sacked, other trainer came, one key player was “ejected” by the supporters (Diego Souza) and Cleiton’s first chapter ended up without much brilliance. 

But as in Valdivia’s case, when he left, there was a feeling that had he stayed he could have done more.

Comes his come-back and – in the same line as Valdivia – expectations were high. Not only the memories of the first time were still positive, but Cleiton’s performance with Metallist right before the move back to Palmeiras were quite convincing: many goals and assists, a true “number 10” as we needed.

Unfortunately, Cleiton’s many injuries – the latest one being on January this year during preparations for the Copa Libertadores 2016 – deprived him of delivering on expectations and many were casting doubts over his real possibilities to ever be effective for the club. There were comparisons stating that in a “cost benefit” analysis his case was much worse than that of Valdivia.

cx_atlBack to the standing ovation. I was in Allianz Parque and as decades old attendant of many Palmeiras’ games, I can attest that I can’t recall so much time being devoted to saluting a player like happened on Saturday. And something else, it was spontaneous.

Of course, I am not comparing Cleiton with Ademir, Evair, Marcos, Zinho, Alex and others at that level whose applause receiving record is “hard to match” to put it mildly. But those long seconds may have a meaning that we must interpret well for its repercussion on the club’s policy of signing players.

I believe that more than his performance, Cleiton was saluted for his commitment to paying back what the club had entrusted him with, in terms of cash and in terms of relying in his character.

Cleiton lived out his said and often times repeated love for Palmeiras: “it’s my heart’s club and I’ll very much honor the jersey, Mr. President” were his words in the presentation press conference, back in January 2015. During his injuries, he was never caught goofing off the treatment. In fact, in January 2016, again reliable sources in the club confirm that his latest injury was due to “over determination” to start the year strong to play the Copa Libertadores.

I believe the supporters followed all this, compared this with the behavior of the “former number 10” and expressed approval of Cleiton’s attitude and behavior.

Of course, there was also hope in that applause: hope that good times of us palmeirenses being permanently proud of our squadra’s performance are back; hope that we’ll have a number 10 that honors the traditions of Jair Rosa Pinto, Chinesinho, Ademir da Guia, Djalminha, Alex.
But, the signal is there: that is the kind of player we want. Yes, we want quality. But only if it comes with commitment, respect, a coherence between talk and deeds, professionalism, collective spirit and all these qualities that, at the end of the day, really make up a team.

My hope is that the club’s senior management will heed to the signal and be very careful when seeking new signings.

And I also hope that Palmeiras will be 2016 Brazilian champion!

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*Erasmo München 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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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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Last Saturday, on 28 March, Palmeiras paid homage to one of club’s biggest idols in recent times: Alexsandro de Souza. Alex for short. A game was played at the Allianz Parque between the “Friends of Alex” squad against the “Palmeiras Libertadores 1999” squad. So much history bundled together it makes you breathless.
Alex was instrumental in securing the Brazil Cup and the Mercosur Cup in 1998, and the Libertadores Cup in 1999.

Alex was instrumental in turning this recently arrived Swede into a palmeirense.  

At Palmeiras, Alex played a total of 241 games, scoring 78 times and giving 56 assists.

Certainly other players from the last two decades were as big or bigger playing for Palmeiras, but there is something special with this playmaker, respected on and of the pitch like few others, and very well known also outside of Brazil due to his magnificent years at Turkish Fenerbahçe.  

No wonder there were many Turkish fans present at the Allianz Parque last Saturday. One of Alex’s most feverish followers is Harun Aydogan. Leaving the rest of the space for him and his own words. Enjoy.

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This is Harun Aydogan, from Turkey. I am 22 years old and a university student in my country. I went to Brazil, as you guys know, because of Alex. He was our Captain for eight years. And he was the best ever seen in my country. He has a perfect personality: even after our team Fenerbahçe’s backward president Aziz Yıldırım kick him out of the club, he didn’t say a bad thing. And he never changes, Alex is such a kind person. We love Alex. We love our Captain. He deserves the best. I am so happy because I was able to meet him in Brazil and even, for the first time, see and talk to him, face to face. It made me so excited. I am totally sure that he one day is going to be the coach of Fenerbahçe!

This is me with my captain, my idol, and our future coach Capitão Alex de Souza! Nós te amamos!

This is me with my captain, my idol, and our future coach Capitão Alex de Souza! Nós te amamos!

As for Palmeiras and their fans, thank you so much! Especially the guys from Mancha Verde! They are exactly ultras, who really connect with the team 100% heart. By the way, I would love the watch a game with them and sing a song for Palmeiras and for Alex also! Thank you for everything, Brazilian people: you are so friendly, just like Turkish people! Thank you guys, I felt like home! I hope I can return to Brazil and watch a game at the Allianz Parque!

Obrigadão, Capitão Alex!
Obrigadão, Palmeiras!
Obrigadão, Mancha Verde!

This is me some two years ago, back in Turkey, with my Palmeiras jersey! Look I made a heart for you guys! :))

This is me some two years ago, back in Turkey, with my Palmeiras jersey! Look I made a heart for you guys! :))

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An untried practice may help deal with the root of problems that for almost 40 years have been sickening one of the most passionately loved football clubs in the world.

*by Erasmo München

To those of us that support Palmeiras, the last 38 years – all years after the 1976 trophy in the São Paulo state league – have seen penury of results, the exception being the 8 years of the Palmeiras & Parmalat “shared-management experiment”.

Yes, there were near exception cases like the good teams of 1978 and 1979, then the 1983 and 1986 line ups that also almost made it, the 1989 team with lots of signings coupled with the iron fisted rule of our former goal keeper as coach that lost one match and ended up knocked out in the quarter finals; plus the wins in 2008 and 2012.

But the fact is that during this period, when left to its own devices, the club most of the times didn’t quite make it and only won twice, which actually adds to the theory: from 1976 onwards, except for the time that Parmalat brought a combination of torrential cash flow with sound management practices, plus the political lull that it engendered, nothing really lastingly good happened to the Verdão.

What can we do to overcome this “kind of curse”?

A global centre of excellence in football players
I am 55 years old and I still remember the first time that my dad took me to a Palmeiras match. That happened in 1965, the stadium was Ulrico Mursa in Santos and the score was Portuguesa Santista 1 x 2 Palmeiras. 

Since then, and mostly after 1970, I became a fervent follower of the club and got used to one refrain that resembled the slogan of Ultragaz a liquefied gas company very active then. It used to say “every other day, Ultragaz is at your door” (to deliver gas); to the football arena, it translated as “every other year, Palmeiras wins a title” (ano sim, ano não, o Palmeiras é campeão, for those of us who understand Portuguese).

I saw Tupazinho, Servilho, Gallardo (he scored the two goals in the first game I mentioned above), Zequinha, Djalma Santos, Djalma Dias, Ferrari, Rinaldo, Copeu, Jaime, Minuca, Nelson, Baldochi, Dé, Pio, Hector Silva etc.

Then from 1972 up to 1975, the renowned “academy part 2”: Leão, Eurico, Luis Pereira, Alfredo and Zeca; Dudu and Ademir; Edu, Leivinha, Cesar and Ney. Came 1976 and in spite of the emptiness felt due to the exit of the likes of Luis Pereira, Leivinha (gone to play in Spain for Atletico Madrid), Eurico (left to play for Grêmio), Dudu (retired and acting as coach for the club), Zeca (also retired), the team managed to rely on good replacements and plucked up another São Paulo state league win.

And before my early years as supporter, there had been other wonderful players like Romeo, Fiúme, Cattani, Heitor, Tosi, Jair, Lima, Mazzola, Julinho etc. In other words, as a lineage of good players, Palmeiras has always been considered a global centre of excellence!

Excellence in players requires a reasonable level of political unity
What none of us supporters knew is that at that very time – the 1970s – a hidden “revolution” – one should say an authentic coup d’etat – was quietly taking place. The politics of the club were being hijacked by one individual whose only aim has been to dominate the decisions and probably for his private benefit. After that, politicking and disunity became the “core value”, the “guiding principle” of the club. 

Yes, Palmeiras had never been a paragon of peace, but despite the internal fights for power and for winning an argument, when it came to bring about what was best for the club and the football team, all political forces used to “row in the same direction up the river”. Not by accident, one famous expression in Brazil seems to have been coined in Palmeiras’ politics prior to 1976: “it all ended in pizza”, as a sign that even hot debates could be sorted out around a good chunk of dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese sprinkled with oregano, as long as the best solution for the common purpose had been achieved.

After this individual reached the central stage of the club’s politics though it all changed and the implied motto of his dealings is “the end justifies the means”, as Machiavelli would say.

The results of this state of affairs are appallingly obvious: rarefied number of titles, two relegations (perhaps three), loss of position in the rank of supporters, downgrading of the club’s brand market value – the difficulty in finding a good sponsor is a good proxy for that – debts, terrific difficulties in acquiring working capital. And apart from the benefits expected from the renovated stadium, perspectives are rather gloom.

Yes, there is the direct vote for president that will be tried for the first time this year that many see as a promising move. But that also is a an uncertain step because of fears that the average club member may not be as sensitive to the football team’s problems: it’s known even that many club members are supporters of rival teams, and that became members only to benefit from the club’s facilities.

Political unity entails an as yet untried action: full transparency
Therefore, the main conclusion one draws from all these years of disunity and poor performance is that for the team to continually succeed and attract the admiration of supporters, the number one factor is not to have excellence in football players although that is a non-negotiable requirement. 

But for this requirement to take place, the number one condition is to have a solid amount of unity in the way the team is governed, i.e. decisions have to be taken exclusively for the good of the team and there cannot be any level of boycotting.

The question is “how do we achieve this”? After all, boycotts and individualism driven opposition are hard to put the finger on, aren’t they? And if a solution for that were so obvious, after almost 40 years it’d probably have been put in practice.

There is one thing though that I haven’t seen tried so far, that is full transparency. Full transparency can prune those that “row the canoe in the wrong direction”.

Let’s expose the real culprits. Let’s bring their dealings into the open. Let’s show who benefits from the poor signings of overrated players, let’s show the supporters the real terms of the agreements signed behind the curtains, let’s find out if there is someone who boycotts the preparation of the team, why players shirk instead of giving their maximum.

As it stands today, the executive leadership bear the brunt of the failures. Many certainly deserve it. But, I am sure that in almost 40 years we had good managers with real commitment to the club but that have been sabotaged by uncommitted people.

I firmly believe that this will not only intimidate them now, but it will help eradicate their existence in the future. We the supporters have to know who gains so that we lose. People like this individual who has been in control of the politics of Palmeiras have to be set apart from the process and exposing them is an untried way to accomplish this.

Doing this, we can foster that “reasonable unity” mentioned above and then stand a chance to bring back the times when rooting for Palmeiras was pleasurable, motivating, reinvigorating.

Let’s make it happen. The club deserves it, the club supporters deserve it, the Brazilian sports community deserves it.

The centennial history of Palmeiras deserves it!

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*Erasmo München is 55 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.

 __ __ __

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.

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We all have different reactions to deceptions and crises. To relegation. Yesterday, while president Tirone enjoyed a bit of beach, respected Brazilian journalist Clóvis Rossi declared he was abandoning Palmeiras – after 60 years, mind you – in favour of his new “mistress”, FC Barcelona.

It didn’t take long for replies to pop up, of which I’ve chosen to duplicate that of Diego Iwata Lima, a reporter at newspaper Diário de S. Paulo and Editor of the Cinestrela.com website. The content has been slightly edited, with Lima’s approval (original Portuguese version here).

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I respect the rights of supporters such as journalist Clóvis Rossi. Clóvis is highly regarded among his colleagues and as a professional. But he is no longer a palmeirense. He thinks Palmeiras “got ugly” and was feeling ashamed while “walking beside her on the streets”. Well, had I been nurturing such feelings toward Palmeiras, I would have given up too.

Especially because you can’t be “just a little” palmeirense: if you are one of us, you must know that our team is going to have (more) difficult times (than good times). And that you, for being palmeirense, will love the team, especially when everything is going wrong. This entails a lot of work.

It also won’t pay you back. Palmeiras are not pragmatic at all. Palmeiras supporters can rightly say they do not live by championship titles. But they are still a proud crowd. Sometimes blind, even. Coherence and Palmeiras do not combine for many. OK, for the majority.

But in case you like football well-played, well, there’s always the chance you might see it again in the future, although the likelihood is far greater you’ll see dedication (God permitting) instead of skills. You’ll be cursing most of them players – maybe all – from time to time. Even simultaneously.

But that’s who we are. We like to go to the stadium and get mad. We say we don’t, but we enjoy a good rant. In the 90’s, when everything was perfect, palmeirenses would curse each other, just for the kicks. Eventually, even the heated swimming pool at the club became a target.

What about when winning? Mate, that’s an incredible feeling, especially because it hardly happens these days. For a few hours, days, everything seems better and brighter. Traffic? Who cares: Palmeiras won the championship! Short on cash? Palmeiras, you are my life and nothing else matters! Fans of other team probably feel the same. I wouldn’t know. And will never know.

In a certain way, I almost envy Clóvis Rossi for this. Can you imagine seeing the Palmeiras jersey on the pitch and just zap the control to watch a Barcelona match? That must be such a liberating sensation! How does one deal with those memories, of being a kid, holding hands with one’s father at the stadium? Clóvis, mate, I cannot do it.

To speak the truth, I believe neither can 98% of palmeirenses. Not a single one among the people I know. I have seen palmeirenses pretending to abandon the team, but they always come back. They promise they are no longer fanatics. But they never truly change, they just become better pretenders.

Well, Clóvis, good luck with Barcelona. You must be very excited about the Champions League, La Liga, the Copa del Rey and other championships. Your season is definitely going to be more exciting than mine.

In any case, Palmeiras and I are going to be somewhere between Arapiraca (!) and Rio Grande do Sul. Maybe, even at the New Arena. Feel free to give us a call. And forgive me for any typos; days have been a bit rough as of late. You see, I didn’t sleep very well last night.

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