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São Paulo Cup elimination through a penalty shootout against Santos. 17h of traveling. Artificial grass. Strong opponent. Palmeiras returned home with a not great but certainly good result against Tijuana, now needing a simple victory in the return game to qualify for the quarter-finals in the Libertadores Cup. With no other duties but training and resting in the two weeks to follow – and with the possible return of some players from the medical department, for example Patrick Vieira – expectations are high. The Pacaumbu stadium will be sold out, no doubt about it.

Against Tijuana, Palmeiras were again more heart than anything else, combined with the tactical obedience from previous Libertadores games. The relatively weak performances we’ve seen in away games did not repeat this time. Special mentioning to Bruno – magnificent between the posts – and Vinícius – working hard and always available on the left flank, keeping Tijuana’s defence busy.

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Serginho_Palmeiras_Clayton_de_Souza_Estadao_260413_292Last week, playmaker Serginho joined the squad. The 22-year-old was defending Oeste as of late, but spent his formative years at Santos with no other than Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso. Very eager, he caused a good impression when officially presented, pleased to once again be part of a big team. Serginho has been included in the Libertadores squad and can be used as playmaker or even a forward. He comes on loan until end of May 2014.

Palmeiras are studying other reinforcements, but as cash continues scarce, preference is given to options that include player swaps: Vasco players might be involved and, possibly, Maikon Leite from our side.

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This Saturday, club members gather in a General Assembly to take a vote on the 15% filter, as unanimously proposed by the DC. If the proposal is ratified, the Direct Vote is securely implemented already as of coming election. The filter is not ideal (no filter should be necessary, imho), but the most important right now is securing the direct vote. Thus, Anything Palmeiras endorse the “yes” vote on this one.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras this weekend made a goalless debut in the 2013 edition of the Paulistão against Bragantino. In all honesty, not much else was to be expected as the pieces available to coach Kleina are roughly the same as last year and considering the short pre-season. Positive impressions: returning Souza on the midfield and Prass between the posts. Negative ditto: Luan, Juninho and Márcio Araújo. Valdivia, injured, didn’t play. Sounds familiar?

The São Paulo Championship will definitely be training grounds for Palmeiras. A decent team needs to be but together in order to, with luck, advance to the second stage of the Libertadores Cup while doing the necessary to successfully conclude the Serie B and next year’s ascension.

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Let’s move on to the Copinha – the São Paulo Youth Cup – where the kids once again put on a splendid performance this weekend, beating Cruzeiro 4-2. The Verdãozinho will face Santos on Tuesday night in one of the semi-finals; in the other one Bahia (who trashed Grêmio) and Goiás (eliminated São Paulo in a penalty shootout) battle it out. Check out the highlights below.
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Maybe it’s unfair talking about the kids as “the future”: for them it’s very much here and now in their quest for the first Palmeiras title in the Copinha. Nevertheless, my mind constantly wanders to the not too distant future when selected gems from this promising batch are brought up to the major league.

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Talking about the future is however inevitable as Palmeiras’ General Assembly – composed by the 1.948 members who made themselves present on Saturday – ratified the fundamentally important and historical statuary changes relating to the Direct Vote. By the end of 2014, the choice of President lies in the hands of some 10.000 club members instead of the 280-something conseglieri of the Deliberative Council. The so called “filter” remains, as expected, the one unresolved question: none of the proposals reached the necessary 2/3 and thus the topic unfortunately goes back to the Deliberative Council: it is now imperative that all pro-democracy movements join forces in an effort to hinder the DC – and especially the infamous president of the Council Mr Vergamini – from exercising any technical or political manoeuvres that jeopardise the implementation of the Direct Vote.

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And so we all take a deep breath and get ready for the next thrill as the 281 conseglieri tonight cast their votes for club President 2013-2014. The two candidates are Paulo Nobre and Décio Perin, both considered to be in stark opposition to the current administration. The two gentlemen have rather similar agendas, where priorities include handing over key areas of the club’s administration to remunerated professionals, strengthen the club’s brand value and improve marketing, redesign the much criticised supporter membership programme and implement sound financial and fiscal policies. They have diverting opinions on one important question: Nobre is open for the idea of allowing supporters – not only club members – the vote for president in the future, something which Perin opposes.

While the agendas might be similar, the profiles of the candidates are anything but:

Paulo Nobre is 44 years old, a wealthy lawyer turned businessman and a rally driver. He’s a palmeirense through and through with both feet anchored in the stands from an early age. Having been vice-president in 2007-2008, this is the second time he runs for president. His approach seems bold and direct, reflecting his “doer” personality.

Décio Perin is 72 years old, has been actively participating in the life of the club for over 30 years and is a counsellor appointed for life. He’s an experienced economist and business administrator, having previously headed Palmeiras’ sections of Communications (1987-1988) and Marketing 1989-1992). Perin’s well familiarised with Palmeiras’ inner circles and pretends to use this to his advantage to pull through reforms.
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By midnight tonight we’re expected to learn who’ll be holding the steering wheel for the next couple of years.

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Due to the extremely turbulent days we are living at Palmeiras, the word is that any eventual player signing will occur only with the new president in office. That goes for Azevedo, Torres and especially Riquelme, who apparently has reached a verbal agreement with Tirone and now awaits Palmeiras’ next move.

— ooo —

Speaking of Tirone, here goes our most intensively sincere last words to the exiting president, his vice-president aka director of football Frizzo and judicial director Piraci de Oliveira: vanish from the face of the earth you disgraceful, incompetent, pathetic beings.

The above is of course nothing but wishful thinking: Tirone and Frizzo are both conseglieri appointed for life and Tirone will in addition now also become a permanent member of Palmeiras’ Orientation and Fiscal Council (COF). Swell.

Anyway: Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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fila_eleicao 04 - pics by Nilton Della Croce_croppedWithin 36 hours, members of the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras will start lining up to cast their votes in the club’s General Assembly. An unusually large number of proposals, a total of ten, will be put to the vote. All proposals are statuary changes relating to the Direct Vote for President as approved by the club’s Deliberative Council at the end of last year. In order for the General Assembly to be valid, at least 10% of members with voting rights need to show up on Saturday, which translates to some 1.000 individuals. The voting procedure is done through the use of electronic voting stations, just like in Brazil’s national elections, and takes place in the Palmeiras Club House on Rua Turiaçu no. 1840.

Eight out of ten proposals can be ratified by a simple majority of ticks in the “I agree” box. These proposals include the approval of the Direct Vote (to be implemented as of the November 2014 election), the necessity for presidential candidates to form an election platform that includes their vice-presidents, the obligation of presidential candidates to present a Plan of Governance and the obligation of sitting directors to provide for a smooth transition between mandates.

There are however two items that divided the Deliberative Council last year, and where the General Assembly is faced with multiple choices. These proposals need a 2/3 majority in order to go through. They are: a) does any given presidential candidate need four or eight years as member of the Deliberative Council to be eligible? and b) must any given presidential candidate have the approval of 15% or 20% of members of the Deliberative Council – the so called “filter” – in order to validate his candidacy?

The first question not so much, but the second – relating to the filter – holds all the potential of havoc. Most members reject completely the idea of the filter, but there is no consensus on what would happen – legally speaking – if none of the two proposed filters but instead the “I do not agree” option receives 2/3 of the votes. Many are interpreting the “I do not agree” option as a vote for a zero filter, but that would be incorrect: theoretically an “I do not agree” vote could as easily mean “I want a 50% filter” or whatever. It’s probably safest to assume that if none of the filter options receive 2/3 of the votes or even if the proposal is rejected by a 2/3 majority, the matter will be returned to the Deliberative Council for further handling. Which in turn could jeopardize the whole implementation of the Direct Vote.

The president of the Deliberative Council, Mr Vergamini, has been formally requested to clarify the issue, but has so far failed to provide an answer. Judging by previous experiences, I’d say no answer is to be expected in time to illuminated voters. We’re in the dark here.

My reading is that it would be best to minimize damage and agree to the lower filter for now: there will be plenty of time to address and correct this issue at future General Assemblies. For now, the implementation of the Direct Vote, although not as direct as one could have wished for, nevertheless continues to be a tremendous step in the right direction of bringing democracy and transparency to Palmeiras. If you are a frequent visitor of Anything Palmeiras, you will certainly remember how much struggle it took to push through the reform in the Deliberative Council (refresh your memory here, here and here). We’re talking years.

The Direct Vote is a tremendous blow to the current way of doing politics at Palmeiras, where a president in order to be elected needs to sell his soul to a majority of roughly 300 consiglieri – of which half are appointed for life and God knows how many doesn’t give a rat’s ass about football or any sport for that matter – with voting power to chose president. Under the New Order, the president will instead be elected by the members of S.E. Palmeiras and be held accountable to them. A substantial shift in the balance of power, from the Deliberative Council to the Members. It’s not worth risking that by pursuing the zero filter in uncertain judicial terrain.

In the unlikely case of any late clarifications being made public by Mr Vergamini, you will hear about it on this space.

Palmeirenses members of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, do your duty and go vote on Saturday! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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It’s been a while since we last had them, the sonar pings. Partly, because everything with Palmeiras turns into such a mess it demands a full post. Actually, these recent happenings do as well but I’ll shamelessly admit I don’t have the time nor energy to waste beyond the minimum. It’s not the right word, but “enjoy”.

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Following the continuously not-so-good results, Palmeiras supporters are increasingly edgy and both directors and some players have reportedly been receiving threats. Mainstream media has been blowing the story up, and although it’s of course unacceptable that players walk around in fear – in addition to highly counter-productive – the whole thing shouldn’t be overestimated. Just nerves and that’s that.

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On the other hand, Palmeiras’ administration is sufficient to drive the calmest man insane. Returning from Araraquara, where Palmeiras drew 2 all with Botafogo last Sunday, communication at some point tilted: players were told they’d have all of Monday and Tuesday morning off, but no one got the message through to the rest of the staff or the journalists: everyone turned up on Tuesday morning, while players only arrived in the afternoon.

The day was crowned with the announcement that Palmeiras would make 11.000 seats – not the standard 4.000 – available for Fluminense supporters in Sunday’s do-or-die clash in Presidente Prudente. Instead of trying everything within reach to boost our chances of avoiding relegation, our directors have their minds on the few extra bucks they can make by selling more expensive tickets to a larger number of the opponent’s supporters. Chocking, to put it mildly. Luckily, the immediate reaction from Palmeiras supporters was strong enough to have the directors retreat within 24 hours, on Wednesday announcing that 4.000 tickets would be available for Fluminense supporters.

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Speaking of Fluminense: the carioca club sustain the largest pay check of all Brazilian teams – roughly US$ 4 million a month. Perhaps not that surprising considering that player like Fred and Deco each receive some US$ 350.000 a month. The lion’s share is covered by the club’s sponsorship deal with Unimed.

In 2011, Corinthians sustained the largest pay check and were crowned champions of the Brasileirão. Fluminense are heading in the same direction: a victory against Palmeiras on Sunday is all it takes. Palmeiras on the other hand need the victory to maintain any hope of remaining in the first division.

Unfortunately, spending money is not a guarantee of success, our Verdão being the clearest example: with a total of some US$ 3 million a month, fifth-ranking Palmeiras are not quite up there fighting for top positions.

Below, a list of the top 10 spenders in Brazilian football (numbers in US$).

1º. Fluminense – 4,0
2º. Grêmio – 3,5
3º. São Paulo – 3,2
4º. Inter – 3,0
5º. Palmeiras – 2,9
6º. Atlético-MG – 2,7
7º. Corinthians – 2,6
8º. Flamengo – 2,5
9º. Botafogo – 2,2
10º. Vasco – 2,0

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As announced by the president of Palmeiras’ Deliberative Council José Ângelo Vergamini, the club’s General Assembly will take place on 19 January. It’s still unclear in what manner the associates will ratify the Direct Vote proposal: by approving/rejecting the whole package or voting the proposal and then each amendment separately. The second option would be correct and give members a chance to modify (i.e. lower) the filter for candidates to run for election (currently set at 20 per cent of approval from the Deliberative Council). The battle never ends.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Last Monday Palmeiras’ Deliberative Council (DC) continued the interrupted meeting of 1 October, voting on the amendments of the Direct Vote proposal to be implemented as of the 2014 elections. The whole thing went fairly smooth, but not entirely to the taste of this blogger and other progressive forces wanting to see more dramatic change to Palmeiras. The always excellent Luciano Pasqualini, Executive Director of the Fanfulla political movement, posted a good summary containing the main points of the approved proposal: below you find bits and pieces translated – thanks to the valuable contribution from Eduardo Toledo – with a few additional comments from yours truly.
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What has been approved by a majority of the DC

1) Instead of eight years, the presidential candidates will only need four years of experience as counsellor. <Good change>

2) Presidential candidates must form a platform, consisting of a president and four vice-presidents. Today candidates run individually, meaning we sometimes end up with vice-presidents that have a different political platform than the president. <Good change>

3) Platforms are registered and subjected to pre-approval by the DC before deemed valid to run in the elections. At Monday’s session a majority of the DC (84 vs. 64 votes) opted for a 20 per cent filter, meaning that any platform must receive 20 per cent of the votes of the DC or 50 votes, whichever number is greater. <This is where it gets tricky. Some sort of filter is in my view justified in order to avoid having an exaggerated number of platforms or brake very populist/manipulative moves, but a 20 per cent filter is too high, especially considering that almost half of the DC’s members are appointed for life (have not been elected by the Club’s Associates). The filter should be made low enough to allow for new oxygen, giving the Associates freedom of choice between a multitude of platforms running in the elections. 10 or 15 per cent would both be better options. As now stands, a maximum of five different platforms could run in the election (provided at least 250 out of almost 300 counsellors of the DC are present and cast their votes, and that each platform receives exactly 20 per cent of the votes – a highly unlikely scenario). An obvious risk with the high filter is that only “traditional” political profiles – those that already count on support from large parts of the DC due to a number of reasons, many of which would not look good in daylight – would pass in the DC and qualify for running in the elections. Meaning we’d be facing a stalemate.>

4) The Audit Committee (COF) will also be elected by the Associates. <Good change>

5) The General Assembly (including Direct Elections) will take place in the second half of November (today it takes place in January), and the new Management takes office on December 15 or 5 days after the last official match of the year. <Good change>

In addition to the above a few other changes were approved, such as a requirement for presidential candidates to formally submit a “Plan of Government”. It was also approved that the sitting President must, at the end of his term, conduct a coordinated transition to the newly elected Management. <All good changes>

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Even considering the filter, the approval is a gigantic step toward democratisation at Palmeiras. With the new order, the Associates will in the end elect the Management which will naturally have to broaden their attention from roughly 100 counsellors of the DC (traditionally sufficient to guarantee your re-election) to the more than 10.000 current Associates. This will in turn expand the political involvement of many of the Associates.

What are the next steps? Well, the President of the DC will make the call for a General Assembly (GA): according to the statuary deadline, elections should happen either by the end of December, or, more likely, by January. The President should release the date later this week.

At the GA, Associates will vote on the Direct Vote proposal. It is unclear how this will happen, the crucial point being if the project will be presented before the GA as a package or as the original proposal with several amendments, each voted separately. The second option is what we must fight for: the good bits approved by the DC would need a simple majority by the GA in order to be ratified; a modification to the filter amendment would require a 2/3 majority. The latter is more difficult, but not at all impossible.

Avanti Palestra!

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At the beginning of last week, Palmeiras’ mission was difficult: close the gap – then at six points – to the first team out of the relegation zone (Coritiba) and win at least six out of the remaining ten games. Now, after Thursday’s highly frustrating display against Coritiba and yesterday’s shortcoming against Náutico, nothing but a miracle saves Palmeiras from spending quality time in the Serie B next season.

With the slipknot around our neck and drumrolls filling the air, Palmeiras now leave for Salvador, state of Bahia. Wednesday, 7:30pm at the Pituaçu stadium, the Verdão throw their last chips in the pot as they take on Bahia – the team of former Palmeiras interim coach Jorginho (substituted by Muricy Ramalho in mid 2009, remember) and one of the best performing squads in the second half of the Brasileirão. It’s Bahia’s position we need to take, and beating them on Wednesday means closing the gap to six points with seven rounds to go. Mathematically possible. But is it even sane to believe in a resurrection of the Palmeiras squad?

The squad… What’s left of it, that is. Against Náutico, Kleina was without Valdivia, Barcos, Henrique, Maurício Ramos, Marcos Assunção, Maikon Leite and Daniel Carvalho. Some of these should be back against Bahia (Henrique and Maurício Ramos at least) while others continue vetoed by the medical department or suspended (Thiago Heleno and Juninho). Absentees, absentees…

President Tirone has been more absent than ever. No, absent doesn’t quite cover it: he’s actually gone into hiding. The weekend at the Palmeiras Club House was tense to say the least, with several verbal clashes – some of which escalated to a physical level – taking place between members of political opposites. We saw smaller groups of younger members walking the grounds and forcefully demanding changes; many a conseglieri – and especially those loyal to the current administration and/or tied to former president Mustafá Contursi – came under heavy fire. “Acabou a paz” (Peace is over) was the slogan: no counsellor or director can expect to enjoy a quiet moment at the club if perceived as part of the problem and not the solution.

Conrado Cacace of the Verdazzo is throwing the towel in relation to remaining in the top division and has already refocused on some complicated tasks ahead. How to achieve them he doesn’t know, but among the priorities are:

# the immediate removal of Tirone and the rest of the directors
# the dissolution of Palmeiras’ Deliberative and Fiscal councils
# the formulation of new statutes
# the creation of a transitory governing body
# elections through direct vote taking place in the first semester of 2013.

He continues: “Coupe? Revolution? The name doesn’t matter. Palmeiras can’t wait for the normal turn of events as set out in the current statutes – statutes written up by the same vermin that orchestrated the political scene resulting in the deadlock we’re in today. Out with Mustafá, Frizzo, Tirone, Piraci, Vergamini and all the rest of the responsible. Leave Palmeiras to the palmeirenses.”

— ooo —

I’m away for the rest of the week, heading into the jungle without any access to communication. As there will be no updates in the following days, here’s a little something for you guys to think about:
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Yesterday night Palmeiras’ Deliberative Council unanimously voted in favour of the proposal to adopt the Direct Vote for president. Unanimously.

Anyone believing it was an easy victory is utterly mistaken. It was the labour of many men and women, the pressure, the commitment to changing Palmeiras that paved the way and built up a momentum so strong that not even the fiercest opponent of the Direct Vote dared go against the tide.

It could have gone wrong. A large number of conseglieri could have stayed absent, not allowing for any voting to take place (in the end we had 191 counsellors present:  the minimum needed was 143). The Council could have opted for a secret ballot, turning the result unpredictable. A spark could have turned the 700 strong and peaceful manifestation outside the building into something different, giving former president Mustafá and his allies an excuse for requesting the postponing of the reunion. The proposal could have been rejected fair and square.

None of this happened. The Direct Vote is now a reality at S.E. Palmeiras, needing only a formal approval by simple majority at the upcoming General Assembly (piece of cake).

The victory is both gigantic and partial. Gigantic because it propels Palmeiras into the 21st century. Partial, because the war is by no means over. In fact, not even the first battle is: no voting took place on the seven amendments to the original Direct Vote project – amendments that will define the length of the presidential mandate; when the first elections under the new rules should take place (2013? 2014? 2015?); what prerequisites a candidate must fulfil; and so on.

The amendments come in all colours and are full of traps. It’s clear that part of the reason why the Direct Vote passed unanimously is that the dark side believes it can do substantial damage to the project through the amendments.  

After a very heated debate, at around 11pm at was agreed that the session should continue in three weeks’ time, thus giving the counsellors more time to study the different amendments before casting their votes on the 22 October. From our side, increased attention and preparation ahead of and during the session is crucial.

Stand proud, palmeirense. Yesterday, power shifted from the hands of a few hundred counsellors into the hands of approximately eight thousand club members. Behold the dawning of a new era for Palmeiras.

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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