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There’s hardly anything more linked to a football club than its jersey. Supporters wear it proudly, crest over heart, many considering it a second skin. As such, a jersey is a natural gift and object of desire.

Palmeiras have always been rock ‘n’ roll. No coincidence the 101th anniversary was set to AC/DC. And with big names in town, it’s inevitable jerseys swap hands.

Legendary Swedish death metal band At The Gates ended a long Latin America tour in São Paulo earlier this months, receiving a tailored Palmeiras jersey – the initiative originating from fans and the Academia Store in Tatuapé.
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Lead singer Tomas Lindberg, At The Gates

Lead singer Tomas Lindberg, At The Gates.

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Mike Patton, front man of Faith No More, is a Palmeiras fan since the 90ies. “I love this club and the culprits for this are Igor and Max Cavalera [original band members of Brazilian class act Sepultura]. Words fail me, I am very thankful for this present.” he exclaimed upon receiving a jersey, handed over by Palmeiras’ marketing department last Thursday in São Paulo – one of the stops on the band’s Brazil tour.
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No need to be a rock star though: this week, Italian General Consul to São Paulo, Mr Michele Pala, visited the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras. Joined by the Director for Italian Language Mr Augusto Bellon, the two diplomats met with president Paulo Nobre, learnt more about the club and its Italian roots, and each received a jersey.
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Earlier this year, in March, the Irish Minister for Education and Skills, Mrs Jan O’Sullivan, received a signed Palmeiras jersey while visiting São Paulo during Saint Patrick’s Day. The Irish General Consul, Mrs Sharon Lennon, has been at the Allianz Parque on several occasions, rooting for the Verdão.
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left: Minister O'Sullivan; right Consul General Lennon and yours truly.

left: Minister O’Sullivan; right: Consul General Lennon and yours truly.

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You remember Kevin, the Celtic supporter who in 2012 was escorted out of the Pacaembu by the police, facing the rage of Corinthians supporters for wearing a Celtic top? This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin and his family for the first time, in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the collaboration of Palmeiras, I could personally hand him a jersey, signed by the squad, and also a jersey for his son Oscar. Kevin, who wants to become an Avanti supporter but for the moment is held back by not possessing the compulsory CPF identity card (it is for Brazilian citizens only), has framed the jersey and hung it on his wall.
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And that is Palmeiras and the palmeirenses – through acts large and small – winning hearts and minds, making friends all over the globe.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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ps. Have you graced someone “famous” with a Palmeiras jersey? Got pictures? If yes, you’re more than welcome to submit your story (in English or Portuguese), sending it to anything.palmeiras (at) gmail.com

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Say hello to Nico!

Nico is the most recent Swede to be born in Brazil. As you can see, Nico is also one of the most recent palmeirenses. And not only Nico, but now also his mother and father, colleagues of mine here in Brasilia. Well, at least that’s what I’m hoping for. Because there can never be palmeirenses enough in this world, now can there?

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Construction on the already infamous “Itaquerão” stadium destined for Corinthians the opening of the 2014 World Cup can halt at any moment due to uncertainties regarding the financing. The Federal Government is already sketching up a Plan B: move the inauguration game to Brasilia.

engenhãoIn Rio de Janeiro, local authorities yesterday declared the João Havelange stadium, commonly known as the Engenhão, closed until further notice. The stadium, built between 2004 and 2007, has been deemed structurally unsafe: strong winds have weakened the roofing.  While the Maracaná stadium undergoes its complete renovation, the Engenhão has been Rio de Janeiros’ main arena. The big four now scramble to find solutions: Fluminense have already announced they are taking their Libertadores games to Vasco’s São Genoário stadium.

In the meantime, Palmeiras’ New Arena is quietly materialising, centimetre by centimetre. With roughly 68 per cent of works concluded, Latin America’s most modern multi-purpose stadium is coming true without any public money or tax breaks, only through private investments.

The progress of the construction can be followed in detail on the official hotsite of the New Arena (also available in English), as well as on several blogs and forums, for example the Pró Palmeiras, La Nostra Casa, Blog da Arena Palestra Itália and the Skyscraper City thread. What follows below is something different and very modest, a few personal reflections based on a visit* conducted to the construction site at the end of 2012.
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Clean - within the possible limits of a large construction site.

Clean – within the possible limits of a large construction site.

organised

Organised – supplies and equipment stacked in an orderly fashion left and right.

Environmentally sound - trees and plants standing green and strong just meters from the concrete being raised.

Environmentally sound – trees and plants standing green and strong just meters from the concrete being raised.

Transparent - constant evaluation of suppliers by use of a large matrix pinned to the wall.

Transparent – constant evaluation of suppliers by use of a large matrix pinned to the wall.

Good mannered - it's a "good afternoon" or a slight nod from EVERY worker we meet.

Good mannered – it’s a “good afternoon” or a slight nod from EVERY worker we meet.

Safe - bright vests, helmets, protection glasses, boots, gloves, harnesses... It's all there.

Safe – bright vests, helmets, protection glasses, boots, gloves, harnesses… It’s all there.

Respectful - as this quote illustrates: "While working the shifts, all are Palmeiras. Whatever they are outside of working hours is their own business. But in here, they are Palmeiras."

Respectful – as this quote illustrates: “While working the shifts, all are Palmeiras. Whatever they are outside of working hours is their own business. But in here, they are Palmeiras.”

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To round things off, a few bonus pictures. And never forget: Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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* My very special “thank you” to the marvelous people at DSM, and especially Daniela, granting me access to the construction site and a guided tour. 

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Kristian Bengtson - Niagara Falls.
Situated on the frontier between the Canadian province of Ontario and the state of New York, U.S., the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls join forces to make the Niagara Falls the world’s most impressive waterfall in terms of flow rate: on average, an amazing 1.8 million liters of water fall over the crest each second.

When visiting, you’ll want to go up the 235 meters high Skylon Tower for a spectacular panoramic view, before enjoying the legendary Maid of the Mist boat ride; an attraction that since 1846 has been taking visitors to a very up-close and personal experience with the Falls. Highly and wetly recommended!

Kristian Bengtson - Niagara FallsKristian Bengtson - Niagara FallsKristian Bengtson - Niagara Falls

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Did you get caught by Anything Palmeiras’ lens on 13-14 January? Click the mosaic below for a closer look!

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If you want something done – and done well – you’d better do it yourself. With that spirit in mind more than 5.000 Palmeiras supporters took to the streets on Saturday and gloriously represented the 15 million heads strong family of alviverde fans in reverence of now retired keeper “Saint” Marcos.

As of 11am supporters – many wearing a Marcos jersey – started to gather outside of the Palestra Italia stadium…

 

Then, at roughly 2pm, the crowd started moving toward the Pacaembu stadium under constant singing and cheering. The march took a little over an hour and completely blocked traffic.

There were flags and posters aplenty: below you find a compilation of the ones distributed by the organisers of the march (Lagrutta and I took turns carrying #36 – the Saint with Garibaldi). Click mosaic for the option to download images separately from the Verdazzo site!

At the Pacaembu, more supporters gathered up to form the crowd of 25.000 heads that watched the friendly against Ajax.

Although the game did not offer up much quality football, the end result – Palmeiras 1-0 Ajax – was rather surprising considering that Ajax are in mid season while Palmeiras have just started theirs. And if Ajax knew only Scolari, they now have a few more names on their list: both right-winger Cicinho and goalkeeper Deola performed splendidly, Cicinho to the point of getting attention from Ajax spotter van der Zee and coach de Boer. Watch the highlights below.

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Saturday 16 January will be remembered by everyone who was there and participated. Once again, Palmeiras’ supporters showed how they are miles ahead of any football director or president in their unconditional love, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Without a doubt the happiest day in my life as a palmeirense. Thanks to everyone who made it happen! AVANTI PALESTRA!

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With keeper legend Oberdan Cattani in front of the Palestra Italia stadium

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Last Sunday’s draw at home against Cruzeiro was very disappointing. Palmeiras were holding all the cards but again were unable to assert superiority, allowing Cruzeiro to level up with five minutes to go. Assunção, who has scored two free kick goals on stoppage time in the last three games, this time blew a penalty at 46 minutes of the second half. Tragic. Unfortunate. Even unlucky. Palmeiras were playing well and deserved the three points.

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The team crumbles under pressure. And important (and expensive) players are not up to standards or absent. Valdivia is serving the Chilean national team. Or was, rather: yesterday it was announced that he’s got a muscular problem and will be approximately four weeks off the pitch. Kleber has not been the same since that episode relating to salaries and the threat of him transferring to Flamengo. Our “Gladiator” seem to have turned into a flower, frequently feeling “pains” the day before a game and watching from the sideline. Well, at least we got rid of Lincoln.

Scolari has indicated that he will adopt a different posture from now on, as Palmeiras are in no danger of relegation (knock on wood) but are losing out on opportunities to approach the top four teams in the championship. Having the competition’s best defence is not enough: more goals are needed, especially when playing away. Thus, expect a more offensive team as of today against Atlético Paranaense.

— ooo —

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in London from 27 July to 12 August 2012, becoming the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948. London was elected as the host city in 2005,  defeating Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris.

The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will use a mixture of new venues, existing and historic facilities, and temporary facilities. The organisers’ intention is that there will be no “white elephants” after the Games; some of the new facilities will be reused in their Olympic form, while others, including the 80.000 seater main stadium, will be reduced in size or relocated elsewhere in the UK.  

The costs of mounting the Games are separate from those for building the venues and infrastructure: while the Games are privately funded, the venues and Park costs are met largely by public money. The total cost for the Games and the regeneration of the East London area is estimated at roughly U$ 15 billion, which includes U$ 3.2 billion from the private sector by a combination of sponsorship, merchandising, ticketing and broadcast rights in order to stage the Games. With less than one year to go, the Games construction is 88 per cent complete, ahead of time and under budget.

A digital clock, located in Trafalgar Square, does the countdown to the opening ceremony.

— ooo —

My vacations are now over and I’m back in Brazil. I guarantee you fewer half-baked posts and no more pictures of my pretty face for a considerable time. Promise.

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