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The Paulistão 2018 final initiated a backstage war between Palmeiras and the São Paulo Football Federation (FPF) still far from its end.

In short, the sequence of events includes Palmeiras issuing a note, announcing the break with the Federation; the release of a video, showing the external influence in the game against Corinthians; and the club’s request for a formal investigation at the São Paulo Court of Justice for Sports (TJD-SP). The FPF responded by returning the box at the Federation’s disposal at the Allianz Parque.

For considerable time, Palmeiras supporters have demanded a firmer position from the Club concerning the frequent referee errors. Thus, in this case, they stand united, backing all decisions so far taken by the directors, including the no-show at SporTV’s Segunda Campeã after the game against Botafogo. On social media, it is common to see supporters advocating that the club do not dispute the 2019 São Paulo state Championship, or alternatively, line-up nothing but the U20 squad.

Opting out of the Paulistão would not be an easy decision. Even though most state championships are experiencing nothing short of a crisis, the São Paulo edition brings significant revenues to the clubs. Let us have a look at the numbers for 2018.

Broadcasting rights
The broadcasting rights of the Paulistão carry the highest price tag among all the state championships. In 2018, Rede Globo, through the PFP, distributed R$20 million to each of the big four (Palmeiras, Corinthians, São Paulo and, oh well, Santos) in the state.

Although the contract between the broadcaster and the Federation has never been disclosed in its entirety, it is considered “common knowledge” that clubs must play the championship with their main squad to receive their share.

Six of Palmeiras’ games were broadcasted on free-to-air television. In total, these games reached 187 rating points, as measured by IBOPE, corresponding to 13.4 million televisions tuned in. No Palmeiras sponsor would like give up such expressive brand exposure.
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Rating points, Palmeiras games on free-to-air television

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Ticketing
Palmeiras had nine home games in the Paulistão 2018: eight at the Allianz Parque and one at the Pacaembu (semi-final against Santos). The Verdão headed both attendance and revenue rankings, with an average 31.399 supporters per game and a gross ticketing income of R$18 million and a net income of R$ 11.5 million.
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Palmeiras gross ticketing revenues, Paulistão 2018

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Prize money
The Paulistão hands out the biggest prize among the state championships: R$5 million to the champions and R$1.6 million to the runners-up (Palmeiras, in this case).

Adding up the numbers
Palmeiras’ net revenues from this year’s edition of the Paulistão, comprised of broadcasting rights, ticketing and prize money, surpasses R$ 33 million. This corresponds to roughly 5% of Palmeiras’ annual gross income and would pay a full month’s worth of expenses generated by the club’s professional football department. Not at all negligible.

If opting out of the Paulistão, part of the revenues could be recovered through a pre-season tour, adding to the ticketing of the U20 team competing in the state championship. Still, Palmeiras would hardly reach the R$33 million mark.

What about the Federation?
From the Paulistão, the FPF receives 7% of gross ticketing revenues from the big 4 and 6% from the other 12 participating clubs. This arrangement brought the Federation a total of R$ 3.3 million this year. In the chart below, we can see that a whopping 38% of these revenues originate from Palmeiras; it would certainly be a hard blow to the Federation should it lose its primary source of ticketing income.
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FPF ticketing revenues, 2018 São Paulo State championship

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Furthermore, add to this the damage to the Federation’s reputation, potentially reducing the value sponsors are willing to pay for the Paulistão. One of the biggest teams refusing to play the championship is not a minor issue and should not be underestimated. Palmeiras’ refusal could signal the beginning of the end of the Federation, as we know it today.

The hearing that took place last Tuesday is a clear indicator that Palmeiras are not bluffing. The club wishes to bring the truth out. The Federation should prepare for acknowledging its errors and aid in the quest for transparency. We have seen nothing of the sort so far and, to be frank, odds are small, very small.

With the backing of their supporters, Palmeiras are in a position to play hardball. Stay tuned.

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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

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Unfortunately, this match review is less about football and more about external interference that decided the final of Brazil’s most prestigious state championship.
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A giant mosaic covered the whole stadium (photo credits: Augusto Oazi)

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Backed by 41.227 supporters (new Allianz Parque attendance record), Palmeiras allowed Corinthians a start they wouldn’t even dream of: a goal to equalize the aggregated scorecard already in the first minute. Matheus Vital slipped through Marcos Rocha and Antônio Carlos to pass the ball behind to Rodriguinho; the shot would have been easily saved by Jailson had it not deflected off Victor Luiz.

After the early goal, the game evolved as expected, Palmeiras exercising superior ball possession but at large being blocked by Corinthians’ defensive line. The team in black and white basically parked the bus, waiting for that opportunity to counter-attack.

Palmeiras did not create that many opportunities during the game, but in the 26th minute of the second half, Dudu received a heavy challenge from Ralf inside the box and went down, well-positioned referee Marcelo Aparecido de Souza without hesitation awarding the penalty. Dudu took the ball and placed it on the 9-meter mark, but as the referee continued aggressively surrounded by Corinthians players, play did not resume. This went on for almost two minutes, de Souza fencing off Corinthians players and handing out a yellow card. Enough time for the fifth referee, who had been positioned at the other side of the pitch completely, jog over to the fourth referee, say something, and the fourth referee approach de Souza with what could only have been fresh info based on camera reviews: Ralf might have touched the ball before clipping Dudu, there might be room for interpretation, there might not have been a penalty. The referee looked ready to change his mind, now with all Palmeiras players ventilating their frustration. In vain, we learnt. The confusion lasted for a total of eight minutes, no penalty awarded, the external influence crucially changing the game’s outcome. Need I mention de Souza’s refereeing career was hanging on a thread there?

In the remaining 20 or so minutes, Palmeiras tried their best, coming close with a free kick just wide from Marcos Rocha and a header from Thiago Santos. Also Corinthians had an opportunity with Sidcley, driving the ball not far from Jailson’s left post.

In the penalty shootout that followed, our players were clearly frustrated, and more nervous than Corinthians’. Cássio saved the shots from Dudu and Lucas Lima, our first and third kickers respectively. Victor Luiz, Marcos Rocha and Moisés scored for Palmeiras. Corinthians missed only one penalty, the fourth, Fagner sending the ball to the stands. Below, a first video with the highlights, and a second, with the eight minutes culminating in the external interference.
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After the game, Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte did not spare his criticism. “Shameful” was the word, repeated over and over again. Galiotte informed no Palmeiras representative would be present at today’s closing ceremony of the championship at the Paulista Football Federation.

As palmeirenses and lovers of football, yours respectfully hope, with all sincerity, that president Galiotte and Palmeiras transform words into action, sparing no effort to protect the club and the sport against biased and harmful practices that stain Brazilian football at an accelerated pace. What happened yesterday is the mirroring of Brazil, where impunity reigns and the powerful do as they please. Overwhelming as the task may seem, we believe we speak for an absolute majority of Palmeiras supporters when we say we are ready, come what might. There needs to be change.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi and Kristian Bengtson

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…at the hands of our directors! As soon as the game against Millonarios was over, president Tirone, vice-president Frizzo and legal director Piraci de Oliveira gave conflicting statements regarding Palmeiras’ next “home” game against Botafogo: one confirmed while another denied the game had been transferred from Saturday to Sunday. One claimed it would take place in Presidente Prudente, while another confirmed it in Araraquara. It took a day before the final verdict: Sunday, Araraquara.

Barcos – the bright shining star in Palmeiras’ squad – recently has been rewarded with opportunities to pull on the Argentine national jersey: something likely to happen again as the superclassico between Brazil and Argentina has been rescheduled for the 21 November at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires. Barcos is a serious, hard-working professional, dedicated to his career and to Palmeiras. President Tirone should have thought twice before hinting that Palmeiras might contact the Argentine Football Federation requesting that Barcos stays in Brazil for the remainder of the Brasileirão. When a player is having his break of a lifetime, his shot at stardom, you can’t do that. And Barcos promptly let the word out that he wouldn’t consider giving up his chance of playing for Argentina. Hopefully, no major damage done. But again Palmeiras generating their own little tornados.  

More from president Tirone: yesterday it was announced that Rodrigo Geammal is the new manager of marketing at Palmeiras: for how long and at what price has not been revealed. I know nothing about Geammal and his skills, but apparently he’s been in the sports’ marketing business for approximately ten years. That Palmeiras needs professionals in the area is a well-known fact, but that doesn’t make the timing of the closure of the deal any less awkward. Tirone has a little more than two months left of his mandate as president.

Thursday was crowned by vice-president Frizzo’s absence from the São Paulo Football Federation’s meeting held to define the regulations for next year’s edition of the State Championships. 20 chairs with 19 representatives from competing teams. And then the one, empty seat. Frizzo, called up by a journalist, first seemed puzzled then asked if the meeting was already over. He proceeded with claiming it wasn’t that important, then recalled he hadn’t seen the invitation but believed the meeting was in fact scheduled for this week.

Can you believe all this took place in less than 48 hours?

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Last week Alex, the former Fenerbahçe star with glorious periods at Palmeiras and Cruzeiro, announced that he will sign a two-year contract with Coritiba – the club of his heart that raised him as a professional and to which he had promised to return to end his career. I believe there was little Palmeiras (or any other club for that matter) could have done to have him change his mind, perhaps tempting him into signing a one-year contract before ending his splendid career at Coritiba. But one cannot help but wonder how things could have played out if Palmeiras were in the top half of the tables and had good directors. Heck, not even good but average would suffice. Perhaps even lower than average… Anything but today’s.

Anyway: no doubt Alex made the right choice. He also kept his word, which is something rarely seen these days – particularly in the world of football and big money. It will be joyful to watch him up close again, although in the “wrong” jersey. Good luck, Alex!

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As of this Sunday, Palmeiras enter the quest of seeking the team’s 23rd trophy in the oldest and most prestigious state championship in Brazil: the Campeonato Paulista, or just Paulistão for short. There are 20 teams competing and the teams play each other only once in the first round, with the top eight teams in the first round qualifying to the quarter-finals (the bottom four will be relegated). Quarter and semi-finals are played in one-legged matches, while the final is played home and away.

Assisting coach Murtosa

Palmeiras’ first opponent is a tricky one: Bragantino (banana skin, if you ask Matthew Burgess). Palmeiras come without Deola and Felipão , both suspended for a few games each after having criticised the referee in the end of last season’s edition. Assisting coach Flávio Teixeira, more known by his nickname Murtosa, will lead the men. Thiago Heleno is recovering from surgery and is back only in April. None of the new arrivals, with the exception of Juninho, should be fit to play. And Luan’s participation is also doubtful. My estimate: if we escape from the Nabi Abi Chedid (yes indeed) stadium with a draw, that’s more than fine.

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It’s tradition in Brazil having pretty girls in football jerseys competing for the title of “Muse of the Championship” – be it a state championship or the Brazilian national championship – and most major news portals have their own competition. At the end of last year, Palmeiras fans voted on the official website and elected Priscila Escobar as their candidate for this year’s edition of the “Gata do Paulistão” – the babe of the São Paulo State Championship – organised by the São Paulo Football Federation. Check out a few pictures of the 25-year-old model here, vote for her here and get familiar with the 19 other competing girls/teams here. Good luck to you, Priscila!

There’s more to come: stay tuned for an interview with last year’s grand winner of the news portal UOL’s “Babe of the Brazilian Championship 2011” competition, palmeirense Tassiana Dunamis!

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