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Ahead of tomorrow’s Paulistão final, Palmeiras this morning opened up the Allianz Parque, inviting supporters to accompany the last training session before the derby. With some 31.500 spectators of all ages and social classes present, the stadium pulsated in an impressing display of passion and union. The event also rendered close to 40 tonnes of food products, collected for distribution to the needing.

What a jackpot, Palmeiras, on so many levels!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Many this morning had the first opportunity of their lives to visit the Allianz Parque.

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Palmeiras are experiencing an unprecedented growth in organised supporter groups outside of Brazil (at Anything Palmeiras, there is even a page dedicated exclusively to these affiliates and if you have not already, you MUST check it out). The growth has certainly been driven by Palmeiras’ success in recent years, as well as the by the day more accessible information and communication technology. However, credit is also due to Palmeiras’ directors within the “Interior Department”, a mismatching statuary name for the division responsible for handling supporters outside of the city of São Paulo (indeed a rather extensive region to cover).

In today’s post, a translation of an article written by Bruno Maciel and simultaneously posted at Olé Palmeiras, we learn a bit more about one of these new, thriving palmeirense communities: the PIS – Palmeirenses in Sydney. Enjoy!

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Palmeirenses in Sydney (PIS) was created in early 2016. The Australia-based supporter group has its headquarters at Cheers Bar, located at 561 George Street, where Liverpool and Celtic supporters also meet up. According to Rodrigo Teixeira, one of the nine general managers of PIS, this particularity have given birth to an entertaining rivalry among the fans of the three clubs, in addition to a very nice friendship.

“We have become great friends. At the end of the year, we organized a party in the pub, and they attended. We always joke around with each other, and mainly with the Liverpool fans. We say that if they should once again win the Champions League, and we the Libertadores Cup, we will run them down in the World Cup final, but all in good spirit”, Rodrigo says in the interview.

In fact, the co-existing at Cheers Bar could not be different. The idea of ​​creating a Palmeiras community in Sydney was inspired by the meetings that the English and Scottish promoted at the premises. Cheers Bar employee Will Santana, a Palmeiras supporter, followed these gatherings closely and decided to ask the owner of the Pub if could also get a group of locals together.

“The answer was yes, even after Will making sure that the boss understood this was no normal crowd, but a partying and loud bunch of supporters. A picture – the largest – was pinned to the wall and Cheers Bar was officially PIS’ headquarters”, Rodrigo explains.

Will started spreading the word on social media among Brazilians living in Australia, and soon enough the first five supporters turned up. These suggested setting up a WhatsApp group to facilitate communication. Since then, PIS has not stopped growing: on facebook, the group has about 2.300 followers, and the WhatsApp group has 257 members – supporters who frequent the Cheers Bar on game days – at least on and off.
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The PIS members certainly deserve recognition from palmeirenses all over the world for the effort they put in to watch the team’s games. After all, there is a 13-hour time zone difference between Brazil and Australia. That means being at Cheers Bar at 6 am on a Monday morning in order to catch the regular Sunday game.

“On derby days, we have an average 100 people watching. Last year, at every Palmeiras game we had people here – sometimes only five people, sometimes 50 or 100. But always people. Our all-time record attendance was when we beat Chapecoense to bag the 2016 Brazilian Championship title. 200 people came for that game”, says Rodrigo.

OPERA HOUSE
That day, naturally, deserves its own page in PIS’ history book. In ecstasy, the 200 Palmeiras supporters left the bar to celebrate the title at one of the best-known places in Australia: the Sydney Opera House.

“We started the championship party there, and then headed for Coogee Beach, where we set up and fully enjoyed a barbecue. It was epic,” recalls the manager.

All the love on display for Palmeiras captivates the Australians. According to Rodrigo, it is very common, on game days, to see locals inside the Pub, following the game and cheering for the Verdão, the Big Green. “They are impressed with our fans and how much we love Palmeiras. Many join us to be part of the vibe we have created”.

As with the Dublin crowd [the topic of an upcoming post], all this dedication has not gone unnoticed by the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras: the club has granted Palmeirenses in Sydney formal recognition as the Palmeiras Consulate of the Oceania.

ORGANIZATION
With only two years of PIS existence, there is but one word to explain such impressive growth: organization. Starting with the 10% discount at Cheers Bar for holders of the PIS membership card, as negotiated by Will with the Bar owner. “A lot of people seek us out toward the end of the night, telling us the card was a great help when the bill needed paying. Steadily, we are increasing the number of members. Last Monday, the day after defeating Santos, we saw five new ones”, Rodrigo says.
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PIS events goes beyond Palmeiras. On June 9, 2017, the Brazilian national team played Argentina in a friendly in the city of Melbourne. In an effort to support Gabriel Jesus and the rest of the squad, 60 PIS members bought tickets and went to the neighbouring city to watch the duel, which ended in a 1-0 victory for the Argentines.

“We had an incredible time. There were supporters of rival teams from São Paulo who were very annoyed with our organization and the party we had. Singing Palmeiras songs throughout the game might have played a part in it”, Rodrigo concludes, tongue in cheek.

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How about a 360 degree HD snap view from inside of the Allianz Parque on game day, with teams on the pitch and supporters on the stands? How about being able to zoom in and out? How about being able to identify your own face, or that of your friend, in the crowd, mark the spot, and leave a comment on the notice board? That’s what Palmeiras 360 degrees is all about: making the Família Palmeiras, step by step, a little more familiar.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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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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Stepping into the Congonhas airport on Tuesday, heading for Belo Horizonte and Thursday’s game against Atlético Mineiro, the Palmeiras squad was greeted to a sending-off of the kind few of the players, if any, had witnessed before: an estimated 3.000 supporters had gathered to show their appraisal and encourage the men. Emotionally touched and honoured, players joined in in the choir – singing, filming, becoming one with the crowd. A rare moment of symbiosis, a thing of beauty.
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The game itself was every bit as tense as expected, Atlético applying customary pressure and exercising greater possession, our players closing ranks, biding their time and launching rapid counter-attacks, one of which saw Gabriel Jesus on target, ending his eight-game streak without finding the net. His tears of joy and relief say it all.
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In the second half, Atlético found the equalizer through Lucas Pratto, the Argentine striker enjoying a splendid moment at the club and national squad, just like our Gabriel Jesus. Tactical obedience loosened up slightly as fatigue kicked in on both sides, numerous chances being created. It could have gone either way, but the draw was fair and just about right for Palmeiras, now only needing two victories in remaining three rounds to mathematically secure the title.
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Two home games remain – against Botafogo on Sunday and Chapecoense the following Sunday – then Vitória away, before the club’s top scorer (12) in this year’s edition of the Brasileirão joins Manchester City. “I got emotional, because these are my last games for Palmeiras”, Gabriel Jesus explained after the final whistle. “Ever since I first pulled on this shirt, I have honoured it, in all the games. Of course, sometimes you lack in technique. Today, I felt tired, which is normal, but the sacrifice was worth it. Not only because of the goal, but also for being with my comrades. This is a united group, of which I am proud to be part”, he concluded.

In the wee hours of Friday, Palmeiras left Belo Horizonte for Atibaia, where conditions are ideal for concentration, rest and practice ahead of Sunday’s clash with Botafogo. A combination of results can actually seal the competition already this week: victory for the Verdão, paired with Cruzeiro defeating Santos and Flamengo losing points to Coritiba, will set corks shooting through the air.

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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Cuca followed up his initial two defeats with another two: 1-2 at home against Red Bull last Thursday and yesterday’s disastrous 4-1 away against Água Santa. Just like Palmeiras, Água Santa recently swapped coach and had not tasted victory for quite a number of rounds. Similarities end there: the team from the municipality of Diadema made its professional football debut in 2012 and accumulated R$ 2 million in revenues in 2014 (centenarian Palmeiras accumulated R$ 244 million in that same year). A David vs. Goliath comparison isn’t quite enough.
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A few months back and Palmeiras were considered one of this season’s main contenders, having kept the bulk of the victorious 2015 squad and signed what was seen as strategic players for specific shortcomings – many of these players sought after by rivalling clubs. In addition, coach Marcelo Oliveira was given more time.

On top, you add state-of-the-art facilities, salaries paid on time, and a very strong supporter base. Palmeiras is a club who, in general terms, has made an effort to follow the recommended script, and in return is reaping the worst season start in 30 years.

Cuca has had little to no time to train, with games twice a week. In addition, he is a notorious slow starter: at Atlético Mineiro, he lost the first six games before turning the team around. Similar stories at Botafogo, Goiás and Fluminense. There is talk of divisions within the squad (isn’t there always?), that Cuca has identified the rotten apples and asked for their removal. There is talk of a list of reinforcements, signed Cuca. There is a lot of talk.

Complaints and accusations have increased exponentially, the squad, Alexandre Mattos and Paulo Nobre being primary targets. Most of it is both passionate and irrational, with little to no effort to separate intentions, activities carried out and outcome. I understand and share most of the rage, without for a second believing that any solution lies with the “it’s not going well, so off with their heads” loudmouths.

Never mind the loudmouths: the politically motivated are the dangerous ones. Those who take each bad performance on the pitch to criticise everything done in the last three years, in particular the fundamentally important fiscal adjustments. “Go on counting your money, you elitist financial brats with zero knowledge of football”. Palmeiras have suffered from instability on the pitch for decades. Firing away at one of the primary off-pitch achievements of recent times – financial stability and responsibility – seems insane. Insane, until you realise that certain individuals are ready to gamble with the survival of the very institution they claim to serve in order to fulfil personal aspirations.

Amidst this full-blown crisis, Cuca needs to focus on Rio Claro on Thursday then the derby against Corinthians on Sunday. After that, it’s off to the absolute do-or-die clash with Rosario Central, the Argentine time currently sustaining a streak of 22 home games undefeated. Nothing short of victory keeps Palmeiras alive for a spot in the Libertadores knockout phase.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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