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Yesterday, both São Paulo FC and Corinthians were eliminated from the Brazil Cup – the latter by Internacional of Porto Alegre, who today drew Palmeiras as opponent in the group of 16. First leg at the Allianz Parque in mid-May, second at the Beira Rio a week or two later. The dates mark Palmeiras’ entry into the tournament.

Right-defender Lucas Taylor is back at Palmeiras after having spent 2016 at Paraná and Criciúma, before playing the 2017 São Paulo championship for Red Bull. Palmeiras have kept a steady eye on the 22-year-old, raised at the club’s youth divisions. By the looks if it, Taylor has evolved enough to render him a space in the squad.

U17Speaking of the youth divisions, Palmeiras’ U17 and U18 both recently came out victorious from two international tournaments. The U17 bagged the Scopigno Cup, in Italy, beating Dynamo Kiev 2-0 in the final. Palmeiras midfielder Alan was elected best player of the tournament, Daniel was top scorer (4) and Artur Itiro was elected best coach. The other teams in the Scopigno tournament were Pescara, Rieti, Lazio, Cagliari, Zenit, Ternara, Teramo and L’Aquila.

U18Almost simultaneously, the Palmeiras U18 beat Croatian HNK Rijeka 2-1 to lift the Bellinzona trophy in Switzerland; an impressive feat by Palmeiras, as half of the U18 squad stayed in Brazil to compete in the U20 Brazil Cup. Defensive midfielder Matheus Neris was elected best player of the tournament. This was the third time Palmeiras won the Bellinzona tournament (2007 and 2016). Other teams included Grasshopper, Honved Budapest, Brøndby and Inter Milan.

In the last couple of weeks, Palmeiras extended the contract of three players in the youth divisions: aforementioned Matheus Neris (18) and Patrick (17) – both midfielders – and centre-back Fabrício (17). All three are now on contracts until end of 2018 and will play for Palmeiras U20.

Palmeiras have also announced the signing of forward Yan, from Vitória. The arrival of the promising 18-year-old is part of the arrangement that sealed Cleiton Xavier’s transfer from Palmeiras to Vitória at the beginning of the year. Yan comes as a loan until 31 January 2018, Palmeiras having the option to buy. Yan drew attention in 2015 as top scorer in Vitória’s successful U17 Brazil Cup campaign. He has also played for Brazil in youth competitions.

In addition to the aforementioned players, Palmeiras have strengthened the youth divisions with Chilean centre-back Diego González (from O’Higgins), midfielder Gabriel Menino (Guarani) and, from Paraná, centre-back Willian Galvão and defensive midfielder Gabriel Furtado.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras and Crefisa last week announced the renewal of their sponsorship agreement, securing the highest amount paid to any club in South America and the 10th highest in the world, pushing Juventus (US$ 19 million/year) from the list. Although figures were not disclosed by Crefisa president Leila Pereira and Palmeiras president Maurício Gagliotti at the announcement, they are known to sum approximately US$ 24 million/year, for two years, bonuses for championship titles not included.

In addition to the sponsorship deal, Crefisa continues to boost Palmeiras’ contracting power. The acquired outstanding 50% of Dudu’s economic rights is an example, the recent signing of Miguel Borja, at a US$ 10.5 million price tag, another.

In 2016, Crefisa saw a record profit, some US$ 325 million. It is hard to calculate the impact of Crefisa’s increased visibility on its profits, but without doubt the deal with Palmeiras brought the company into the spotlights. Some sports journalists insinuate money laundering to explain the relatively high sponsorship deal, ignoring the splendid results Crefisa presents. It is rather revolting how a well-established private financial institution suffers accusations, while state-run companies like Petrobras and Caixa use public funds to sponsor many a team in Brazil, little questions asked.  

Below, a list of the ten biggest sponsorship deals worldwide in football (according to Forbes).

#1 Manchester United (Chevrolet) – US$ 80 million/year

#2 Chelsea (Yokahoma Rubber) – US$ 57 million/year

#3 Manchester City (Etihad) – US$ 57 million/year (including stadium naming rights)

#4 Liverpool (Standard Chartered) – US$ 43 million/year

#5 Arsenal (Emirates) – US$ 43 million/year (including stadium naming rights)

#6 Barcelona (Qatar Airways) – US$ 41 million/year

#7 Bayern Munchen (Deutche Telecom) – US$ 34 million/year

#8 Real Madrid (Emirates) – US$ 34 million/year

#9 Paris Saint-Germain (Emirates) – US$ 28 million/year

#10 Palmeiras (Crefisa) – US$ 24 million/year
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Palmeiras v Internacional - Brasileirao Series A 2016

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Although officially consistently denied by Palmeiras, a deal has been cooking since November. Atlético Nacional naturally want as much as possible for their star striker, but the insistence on too high a price resulted in the European transfer window closing without any serious option on the table. Big dollars are also available in China, but Borja is young and hungry and not at all keen on a move to Asia. Palmeiras’ director of football Alexandre Mattos seems to have played his hand well.

What additionally has tipped the scale in Palmeiras’ favour is Borja’s own wish: in a fresh-off-the-presses interview for a Brazilian newspaper, he admits having swapped messages with former teammate Alejandro Guerra and fellow compatriot Yerry Mina about Palmeiras and liked what he heard. He also mentioned the feverish Palmeiras supporters and that he had received many encouraging messages through social media, already feeling welcome at the club. And then, a rather bombastic statement from the recently turned 24-year-old: “My family has already packed the bags for Brazil. I expect a decision to be reached by tomorrow or the day after”.

Word is Palmeiras are paying US$ 12 million for 50%-70% of the player’s economic rights.

Tomorrow, Palmeiras and Crefisa are holding a press conference to announce a two-year renovation of the sponsorship partnership. Expect numbers rarely, if ever, seen in Brazilian football: approximately R$100 million per year (US$ 32 million) with bonuses for titles won. Considering recent developments, I would say there is a fair chance the sponsorship renovation be not the sole topic on the agenda.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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In a year of considerable national and international turmoil, Palmeiras broke longstanding taboos to lift the 2016 Brazilian championship trophy for the first time since 1994. On 27 November, the day of the title, the Palestra Italia/Allianz Parque attendance record was broken. For the year, Palmeiras’ net revenues from ticket sales were larger than Flamengo’s and Corinthians’ combined. Palmeiras were also the first Brazilian champion finishing the tournament without a single player having been sent off.

Numbers are interesting, but difficult to present in a compelling way. Unless you have experts to help you out. Below, enjoy a little piece of art signed Rafael Klestoff, KFF Design. Thank you for the contribution, Rafael!

Happy New Year, dear readers! As always, scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Football Soccer - 2017 Copa Libertadores draw.
Wednesday night, the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) carried out the 2017 Libertadores Cup draw. The number of participating teams has grown considerably, from 38 to 47, while one country less is represented, as Mexico opted out. This will be the 58th edition of the tournament and it will span for a whopping ten months – from 23 January to 29 November – the winner qualifying to the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup taking place 6-16 December in the Emirates.

Palmeiras ended up in group 5, together with Peñarol (Uruguay) and Jorge Wilstermann (Bolivia). The fourth team in the group will be the top dog of the knockout prequel featuring Atlético Tucumán (Argentina) vs El Nacional (Ecuador) and Atlético Junior (Colombia) vs Carabobo (Venezuela).

With all due respect to the adversaries in group 5, none of them strike fear in the hearts of palmeirenses. Peñarol are of course a traditional side and should be respected, but have not put together a truly competitive squad in years. Jorge Wilstermann are from Cochabamba, situated 2.500 meters above sea level: a piece of cake compared to La Paz’s 3.700. And the fourth team, yet to be defined… Well.

The group phase, where Palmeiras, Peñarol and Jorge Wilstermann enter the competition, only starts in early March. Our Verdão initiate their Libertadores campaign away, against the still undefined fourth team in the group, followed by two home games, against the Bolivians and the Argentines. The three completing games take place in reverse order.

Below, full tables with the eight groups.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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The Chapecoense tragedy is unprecedented in the history of sports, an entire football squad practically wiped out. The death toll currently stands at 71: 19 Chapecoense squad members; 24 Chapecoense technical staff, directors and other people linked to the club; 21 journalists and 7 crewmembers. There are six survivors, all receiving medical care and in varying physical conditions.

Four of the fatal victims had direct links to Palmeiras: coach Caio Jr, who commanded the Verdão in 2007, forward Ananias (2013), midfielder Josimar (2014) and former midfielder Mário Sérgio (1984-1985).
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Commotion has been worldwide, condolences arriving from near and far, in particular from other football clubs. The four major clubs in São Paulo this morning announced they will offer players to Chapecoense in 2017, on loan and for free. In additions, the clubs will make a formal request to the Brazilian Football Confederation that Chapecoense be immune to relegation for the coming three years. Throughout the day, other Brazilian clubs adhered to the initiative. Nacional de Medellín, Chapecoense’s adversaries in the South America Cup final, asked CONMEBOL to consider Chapecoense Cup winners.
Brazil’s president has declared three days of mourning and the CBF, a week of mourning, suspending all scheduled games.

In the midst of all the pain, the beauty of solidarity. Regretfully, it seems to take random disastrous events to bring out the best in human beings. So be it. Could possibly the major Brazilian clubs find it in their hearts and minds to close ranks and elaborate a proposal to address the most urgent absurdities sprouting from the CBF, Rede Globo and the Brazilian Superior Tribunal of Sports? Are we allowed to hope that the death of these men and women would not be for nothing?

Chapecoense’s last game was against Palmeiras. Below, a short video with footage from the game, a simple homage payed by TV Palmeiras. The second video is from the minute of silence at Anfield ahead of today’s Liverpool vs Leeds game.

Our deepest condolences to family and friends of the victims, and to all Chapecoense supporters. Today, all of us who breathe football, are breathless.
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To what extent football clubs should strive to be agents for social inclusion, community development and civic spirit is a cultural and ideological question. We have touched upon the issue previously, in this article. In short, there is no right and wrong, only a sliding scale, based on personal and collective preferences.

The same cannot be said about human rights and civil liberties: these are guaranteed by the constitution of any democracy, as well as a number of international treaties. Human rights are absolute and universal, no sliding scale whatsoever. And although no country fulfil all human rights all the time, they do strive to do so, at least in discourse.

Violation of human rights cannot be tolerated, neither any relaxation of their legal status. The same applies to any arbitrary restriction of civil liberties.

This is why it is so important to thoroughly dissect and discuss what has been happening around the Allianz Parque on game days as of late. What used to be the area palmeirenses gravitated to – either on their way to the stadium or just for spending time with fellow palmeirenses eating, drinking, socialising, and watching the game in any of the local bars – has become a no-go zone for anyone not an Allianz Parque ticket holder.
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Early morning on game day, police set up barricades, creating an iron ring around the stadium and its immediate surroundings. You are only allowed access if you show your ID and a valid ticket to the game. The initiative is backed by a state of São Paulo public prosecutor, who claims the restriction on any citizen’s fundamental freedom of movement is necessary to secure law and order: the “unauthorised selling of street food” being one of the concerns, to “limit the number of thefts” another. The “welfare of residents” a third.

Remember, we are talking about a location where Brazil’s first official football championship, the Paulista of 1902, took place. A location always intimately linked with sports. A neighbourhood that organically developed around the stadium, not the other way around.

A new level of absurdity was reached last Sunday, when seven-year-old Maria Eduarda was barred from passing the checkpoint least she washed the paint off her face. Her father tried to argue against the interpretation of “no masked person is allowed entrance”, but to no use: the green and white, so proudly applied, was removed in a mix of water and tears.
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Supporters are protesting loudly, questioning both the legal aspects and the fact that the no-go zone is applied only to the Allianz Parque, no other stadium.

Palmeiras have not only, albeit discretely, approved the measures, but actually been collaborating, providing third-party staff to help police with the logistics of verifying IDs and tickets at checkpoints.

As frequently stated, Palmeiras is a club used to battle everything and everyone. In 1942, that included the very Government. Our directors need to take a good look in the mirror before siding with abusive, fascist practices.

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