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Posts Tagged ‘organised supporters’

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Tomorrow Saturday, Palmeiras enter the Allianz Parque with a mission: revert the 3-0 disadvantage against Ponte Preta to proceed to the finals of the São Paulo state championship.

This is the message supporters – earlier today, outside Palmeiras’ training grounds – conveyed to players, coach and country.
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#UntilTheFinalWhistle

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In Brazilian football in general, and at Palmeiras in particular, time is never on your side. Palmeiras maintained all key ingredients of last year’s successful mix, except for one: the coach. Cuca, for personal reasons, has taken a break from football. In mid-December, Eduardo Baptista was announced as his replacement for the 2017 season.

Baptista debuted in the Paulista state championship beating Botafogo/SP 1-0, then lost 1-0 away to Ituano. These results, and the rather poor football presented, was enough to have segments of Palmeiras supporters raise hell on social media and the ultras of Mancha Verde last Thursday, with the scorecard still at 0-0 against São Bernardo, chant “Hey, Eduardo, pay attention, we want championship titles!”, before requesting the return of Cuca. Palmeiras went on to beat São Bernardo 2-0, goals by Dudu and Jean.

The topic of the week has been “pressure”. Even a seasoned player like Michel Bastos says he was taken by surprise by the volume of demands for expressive results and progress this early in the season. Everyone at the club, from directors down to players, all say the same: implementing a new style of play takes time: the squad and Baptista need a few more weeks to make it work. The premature ruckus has of course been picked up by the media, only adding more heat.
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Although the São Paulo championship is a traditional tournament and obviously has its merits, one cannot deny that it primarily serves as a laboratory for modelling and tuning the squad ahead of the Brazilian championship, the Brazil Cup and international commitments (this year, in Palmeiras’ case, the Libertadores Cup). Being allowed a certain tranquillity at the beginning of the season, while conducting experiments, is crucial for the development of the team and the overall outcome throughout the year.

For some supporters, this is all bull. They feel performance is driven by pressure, and must surface quickly. More importantly, they stress their right to complain, as supporters, and as ticket holders. The effect of the pressure applied seems secondary to the right of exercising it: a curious standpoint from a segment who normally states “Palmeiras above everything” and “Eternal love”.

Last year, supporters filled the airport to wave off the squad ahead of an important away game. They also gathered outside the training facilities with flags, flares and instruments, players stepping off the bus to thank the crowds. A few weeks back, supporters in large numbers were at the airport a 6am to welcome Miguel Borja. The potential for supporters to influence outcomes, both positively and negatively, is a given.

Luckily, most seem to understand that Baptista and his men indeed need to be given time: while the ultras last Thursday expressed their dissatisfaction, a large majority of “regular” supporters at the Allianz Parque booed them down. 

We are less than two hours from kick-off. The team’s performance against Linense, away, will be the determining factor for any amount of tranquillity Baptista and the squad will enjoy ahead of next week’s derby against Corinthians.

Patience! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras came out victorious from the derby, beating Corinthians with the one brace from Cleiton Xavier. By decision of the local authorities, only home team supporters were allowed tickets and the attendance record was broken as almost 40.000 palmeirenses filled up the seats.

carryingYou remember the father, in Brasilia, who in tears carried his disabled son out of a pepper spray-filled Mané Garrincha stadium? In a joint effort by supporters and Palmeiras, he was quickly identified and Palmeiras invited his whole family to São Paulo to attend a training session, meet the players and later attend the derby at the Allianz Parque. No way of mistaking the joy on young Kaylon’s face. I strongly recommend the video below. Congratulations to everyone involved!
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What concerns the judicial aftermath of the Brasilia incident, it turned into a joke, as expected. Palmeiras have no relationship whatsoever with the organised supporter groups. It was Flamengo’s home game, Flamengo were responsible for security at the stadium. The Supreme Tribunal of Sports, the STJD, based in Rio de Janeiro, fined Flamengo R$ 50.000 and further penalised the club with one home game at least 100 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro (where all Flamengo’s home games currently are played anyway, due to the Maracanã being reserved for the Olympic Games). Palmeiras were fined R$ 80.000 and forced to play a home game before empty stands: considering the habitual massive turnout at the Allianz Parque, this equals a fine of R$ 1 million or more. I will not repeat my views on the STJD.

In the middle of the week, Palmeiras played Coritiba, away. Palmeiras dominated from start to finish and were comfortably leading 1-2 when some of “our” organised supporters decided to light flares as the game entered injury time. The referee stopped the game, according to standard procedure in Brazil, and the break lasted for a few minutes, which was enough for Coritiba to regain their posture for a last charge. Our players were not alert and Palmeiras suffered the equaliser. Extremely frustrating. Those two points could prove crucial. And, of course, Palmeiras are likely to face the STJD again.
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Ahead of yesterday’s home game against Santa Cruz, large banners were printed with appeals to supporters to behave. “Please don’t light flares, please don’t fight or destroy the stadium, please help Palmeiras identify wrongdoers”. Palmeiras put on another convincing performance, wearing the new white second uniform and beating Santa Cruz 3-1, this time without having to deal with friendly fire. Let us keep it this way: it is hard enough with just the competition and the disastrous refereeing.
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After nine rounds, Palmeiras stand at 19 points, awaiting the result from Internacional’s away game (Figueirense) later today to learn which of the two enter next week as leader. On Tuesday, América Mineiro await at the Allianz Parque, then Cruzeiro away on the Saturday: both these opponents are currently in the bottom four, so Palmeiras have a realistic chance of walking away with the six points.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras are little by little unloading dead weight in the squad. Midfielder Régis never progressed and has been returned to Sport. Today, fullback Leandro Almeida signed with Internacional, on loan, for the rest of the season. Every palmeirense jumping with joy, no irony.

tobioThe future of Fernando Tobio remains uncertain. In 2015, after losing space in the squad and facing personal issues, Tobio made clear his desire to leave, more or less forcing a transfer to Boca Juniors. His time now up at the Argentine club, Boca initially announced they would not evoke their right to purchase. As a return to Palmeiras was practically ruled out, negotiations with Flamengo started. Yesterday the Rio de Janeiro club announced they had instead opted for Réver, from Internacional. This explains [sic] why Inter went after Leandro Almeida. Full circle, with Tobio as bystander and his contract with Palmeiras running until end of 2019. However, rumours yesterday claim Boca have changed their mind and are signing Tobio for three years, liberating him from Palmeiras at a US$ 2,7 million price tag.

The supposedly promising Chilean midfielder Arancibia, by some dubbed “the new Valdivia”, did not see his contract renewed with Palmeiras. Youth division manager Sampaio says there has been an accelerated development among players competing for the same position, like Arthur and Kauê, making Arancibia superfluous. The Chilean arrived at Palmeiras in April 2015, suffered a series of injuries and never caused much of an impression.

Midfielder Arouca had an arthroscopy last week, treating a minor knee condition. Expectations are for a speedy recovery. Check out his message to fans on social media, with a picture of him undergoing the procedure.

Alecsandro-3Palmeiras yesterday confirmed that a urine sample from striker Alecsandro, collected on 3 April after the 1-0 victory against Corinthians for the São Paulo championship, tested positive for steroids. A second test will be conducted early next week. More info to follow.

Palmeiras finished the U17 World Club championship as runner-up to Real Madrid, the title being decided in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw at full time. Our young players were very close to the title, conceding the draw only a few minutes from stoppage time. Nevertheless, a splendid campaign, showing Palmeiras’ relatively recent investments in the youth divisions are paying off.
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The organised supporter group Mancha Verde has announced it is expelling nine members, identified as participants in last Sunday’s violent outbreak at the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, where Palmeiras beat Flamengo 1-2. The Mancha also say they will cooperate with the police. Both these acts are nothing short of a mini-revolution if considering the organisation’s track record. Let us hope this is the beginning of a new Mancha Verde.

Also Palmeiras are cooperating with the police, having identified 17 of the troublemakers as Avanti members and excluded them from the supporter programme. In addition, Palmeiras are studying the possibility to take these supporters to court for “dishonouring the name of the club” and possibly inflicting punishment on Palmeiras from authorities.

The strained relationship between Palmeiras and Allianz Parque constructor/manager WTorre reached new heights as the “partner” announced Palmeiras would not have access to the stadium on yet another home game, as on that date it would be used for a screening of the movie “Independence Day: Resurgence”.

The contract between Palmeiras and WTorre is a very sad piece of work: Palmeiras have no means of vetoing dates and events as long as WTorre pays a specific fine (which, by the way, the construction company has failed to do). Still, frustration felt by Palmeiras supporters have been somewhat “under control” due to class acts like Iron Maiden, Katy Perry and Paul McCartney being the cause for Palmeiras having to play elsewhere. Now, expel Palmeiras in order to promote a movie screening?! Supporters went nuts when they learnt about this and within hours, campaigns were drawn up to put pressure on the organisers. The protests soon escalated to a promise: go through with the plans, and we will sabotage your event, making more noise around and inside the stadium than you could possibly imagine.

I am absolutely convinced our supporters would have won this tug-a-war, but we will never know: the Brazilian Football Federation accepted Palmeiras’ request and anticipated the date of the game, avoiding a clash.

Now, that was yesterday. Today supporters learnt that yet another event is planned, exactly on the date Palmeiras would receive Santos, this time in order to conduct a religious service on the premises. The “ThereWillBeNoSceening” hashtag was quickly replaced with a “ThereWillBeNoService” equivalent, climbing the ranks in no time. The message seems clear enough: no third party event at the Allianz Parque will be peaceful unless conceived in harmony with Palmeiras and Palmeiras’ supporters.

As you notice, a week full of excitement, the major one still ahead of us: Sunday’s derby. Why not raise the adrenaline level a notch or two? It is easy to place a bet, you know…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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What a glorious sight, the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasília yesterday. Long but mostly orderly cues outside, friendly and relaxed atmosphere inside. 55.000 supporters (yes, fifty five thousand) sat together, flamenguistas and palmeirenses, in surprisingly even numbers, watching a good game of football. 1-1 in halftime after two early goals, and everything was fine.

Then the usual suspects hijacked the scene, the few but furious. I do not know which side started it, and frankly, I do not care. What I do know is that all of us, orderly spectators, heard a few chock grenades go off on the superior level and then, within minutes, felt the sharpness of teargas invading the stands, provoking cough and sullen eyes. The gas reached all the way to the pitch, where the referee delayed kick-off by some 10 minutes in order to let the air clear, while police were busy keeping organised supporter groups from both teams at bay.

The teargas especially frightened the many children present and some parents opted for leaving. Among these, friends of mine from Sweden, who were there with their three kids. I feel sad for them, I feel ashamed. They were there because I had told them it would be a beautiful day, a beautiful game, and that they would be initiating their ritual of becoming palmeirenses. Rest assured they will think twice before returning to a Brazilian football match.

There are images of this father, in tears, carrying his disabled son away from the game, away from the stadium…

I feel sad. Ashamed. And very angry. Angry at selfish individuals who completely disregard others while in search for their own kicks, driven by a twisted logic of “love”, “devotion” and “defending their club”. Angry at authorities unable to arrest and put these criminals away. Angry at clubs who at best are passive, but more often than not nurture these vandals with tickets, transport and other treats in exchange for political support (not the case at Palmeiras, where president Paulo Nobre has taken an inflexible stance against organised supporter groups and will pay the price for as long as he live).

We have seen it all before. The troublemakers will be fine. The authorities will cry “this is an outrage” and solve [sic] the problem by prohibiting supporters of the visiting team to enter the stadiums. And the Brazilian Supreme Tribunal for Sports – the infamous STJD – will arbitrarily hand out punishments for the clubs involved. Never mind Palmeiras were the visiting team, never mind security at the Mané Garrincha were the responsibility of Flamengo and the police: just watch how Palmeiras will be stripped of their home games or their supporters, being forced to play before empty stands. You see, the STJD are not only arbitrary, but also biased.

Fabrício made his debut for Palmeiras as left-defender. Forward Luan made his re-entrance, for good or for worse. Gabriel Jesus was lethal and once again showed why it is only a matter of time before he is called up for the National squad. Cuca again showed he is not afraid to mix and match, try creative solutions and give every man a chance to prove his worth. Even with a dreadful referee doing his best to thwart it all, the victory saw Palmeiras jump one position in the tables and considerably close the gap to the top. All this and so much more, overshadowed by yesterday’s havoc.
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Meanwhile, Cuca and the men must refocus on Sunday’s derby against Corinthians. Following up the victories against Grêmio and Flamengo with another three points would definitely put Palmeiras in the driver’s seat in the race for the title.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Cut and paste from Thursday’s game post. “No reason for panic. Training, adjustments, time. We’re only at the very beginning of a long journey with these men.”

One thing is accepting this after suffering a loss to Ponte Preta, another completely after conceding the three points, at home, to arch rivals Corinthians. The stigma continues: in the last 14 clashes against any of the other three major São Paulo clubs, Palmeiras have won but one game: against SPFC in February last year. Painful.

Still, words that were valid after last Thursday’s defeat to Ponte are as valid today: Palmeiras have a squad, not yet a team. Yesterday, we saw a level game, with a fatality determining the outcome, as you can see from the match recap below.
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We will have a few more weeks of up and downs before the squad meshes into a team. Mind you, two key players – Cleiton Xavier and Arouca – have not even debuted yet, and playmaker Valdivia is, as always, recovering from injury. Coach Oswaldo is getting to know his players and their characteristics. Newcomers will need space to prove their worth and get used to the patterns of their teammates. Others, like Maikon Leite, are short stacked: as a player returning to Palmeiras after some time abroad, he will either have to show considerable progress or expect infernal heat from (rightly so) impatient supporters. For Leite, time is running out, if it has not already.

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The days anticipating the game, as well as the days now to follow, will be dominated by the once again obvious failure of Brazilian authorities to handle public security.

Three days before the derby, the public prosecutor’s office “recommended” the ban of Corinthians supporters at the Allianz Parque “due to security concerns”, threatening both Palmeiras and Corinthians with legal action if they disobeyed the recommendation. Corinthians threatened to withdraw from the match were their supporters not allowed to enter. The day before the game, the São Paulo Football Federation took a decision: the game would be played and with supporters from both teams.

Come match day, and the apparatus to separate the two organised supporter groups is considerable. Some minor incidents are reported. It could have stopped there, hadn’t it been for the trigger-happy, aggressive and malicious police force, randomly dispersing crowds of supporters – including families with children and retired persons, just hanging around or on their way to the stadium – using tear gas, shock grenades and rubber bullets. The policy clearly does not think derbies should be played at the Allianz Parque; the “right” amount of havoc reinforces this position.

Palmeiras must conduct a thorough investigation and take a firm stance, condemning the violence committed against the club’s most vital asset: its supporters. You want the Avanti supporter programme to grow? It will not, unless supporters feel they have someone looking after them, at least on their way to and inside the stadium. In this chaos called Brazil, that someone has to be the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras.

President Paulo Nobre, speak up!

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The always relevant Verdazzo published an important piece last Wednesday, exposing the perils Palmeiras supporters might face on their way to, during and after the away game against Santos at Vila Belmiro this coming Sunday.

Summing up the situation: after the 2013 incident at the airport in Buenos Aires, Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre cut all ties with the Mancha Verde supporter group. Not that it had any effect on the presence of the Mancha at stadiums (and not that it was intended to have any effect): home games were never a problem due to the large amount of tickets available, and for away games the MV normally secured the amount they needed by different methods – some of them acceptable and others not so much. That’s the way it is and has been for quite some time.

Well, times they are a changing. After the ruckus during distribution of tickets to the Corinthians vs. Palmeiras clash a few weeks back – where queues outside and inside the club got completely out of hand – the Palmeiras administration has taken an innovating step further in the strengthening of the Avanti membership programme: provide tickets to important away games based on Avanti member’s rating. It’s fairly simple: records are kept on Avanti member’s stadium visits and compiled into a ranking. Against Santos, 700 tickets have been made available for the visiting team. Palmeiras have bought them all and sent an e-mail to the 700 highest-ranking Avanti members, offering them a ticket each at a fixed price. Unsold tickets are advertised a second time to the next set of people on the ranking. Any unsold tickets after he second round will then be made available on a first-come-first-serve basis, Avanti member or not.

The initiative is worth all the praise, as it effectively rewards those who work the turnstile the most. At least, as long as these are Avanti members. And there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t be. Be they Mancha Verde or not.

Now, going back to the Verdazzo text, there’s a genuine and legitimate concern for the safety of those 700 palmeirenses heading for the Vila Belmiro. For the first time in ages, there’s no telling how or even if the Mancha Verde will be present. That will have implications on how much chanting and support the relatively small Palmeiras section will be able to convey to our players. Equally or more important: it will have implications on how much protection will be available for our supporters. The Verdazzo convincingly argues that, unless preventive police work is flawlessly executed, the risk of a disaster is overwhelming, as Santos supporters are likely to take advantage of the situation. “It will be the ultimate test to whether Paulo Nobre was right in maintaining an inflexible approach [toward the Mancha Verde]”, Cacace concludes.

But that last sentence is where this space and the Verdazzo will differ. Perhaps in part because I’m not much familiar with the stands, having been to few home games and even fewer away game. In the eyes of some, that alone might be enough to disqualify my opinion entirely. On the other hand, the distance might be what allows me to maintain my focus on principle, even under pressing circumstances like these.

Nobre cut ties with all organized supporter groups based on the principle that physical aggression is incompatible with the society we want to live in and the club’s philosophy. How cynical would it not be if he initiated a rapprochement with the Mancha Verde because Palmeiras, in a sense, need their services as storm troopers, need their protection?

S.E. Palmeiras must do what it can to cater for the supporters’ basic needs, but protection is not one of those: that’s for the authorities and the police to handle. Certainly, Palmeiras should be in constant dialogue with authorities, with the police, and cooperate as much as possible with the aim to increase security for everyone involved. However, at the end of the day, the buck stops with the authorities, with the police.

To lay blame on Nobre for what eventually might go wrong in Santos on Sunday is illogical and inconsistent.

UPDATE: Less than an hour after the publication of this text, three people trashed the Avanti ticket booth in an act of dissatisfaction  for “only” be allowed one ticket each: they wanted 90 tickets out of the total 700 and presented the money. When denied the extended purchase, they attacked the vendor and destroyed equipment and furniture.

Palmeiras responded by suspending the selling of remaining tickets. Full cooperation with the police is expected in a joint effort to identify the perpetrators and bring charges against them. President Nobre issued a firm statement in the afternoon, making clear that the club’s policy remains firm, that Avanti will be the mechanism through which supporters preferably will get their tickets, and that Palmeiras will not bend under pressure.

At this point, there are no information on whether the perpetrators would be members of any of the organised supporter groups.

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