Palmeiras decline a sad state of affairs for a once great team
Published: 03.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
Palmeiras´ relegation was sealed with the kiss of death from a player called Love.
In the cruel irony it was Vagner Love, who had previously plied his trade with the Sao Paulo outfit, whose goal did for the Copa do Brasil winners, with a late, late goal to effectively consign his former team to the drop for the second time in a decade.
Palmeiras’ fall has been steep. Things had been going well for them just a few years ago, as state championships were won following a deal signed with the agency Traffic. This year things were going well. Under Luiz Felipe Scolari they won the Copa do Brasil just a few months ago. Yet Scolari was to repeat an achievement from over 20 years ago, when he coached Criciuma to the same competition. Criciuma took part in the Copa Libertadores, South America’s Champions League, the following season.
Now, Scolari’s former club Palmeiras will play in the Libertadores whilst competing in Brazil’s Serie B. They are actually the third club in eight years to play in Brazil’s second tier in the same season as competing in the Libertadores. It is a reflection of the madness of Brazilian football, where the cup comes to its conclusion as the league gets underway. The same goes for the Libertadores. The result is that you have a situation, such as this year, where Corinthians had won the Libertadores and Palmeiras the Copa do Brasil, and both knew they’d be in South America’s biggest competition next season.
So what was the incentive in the Brazilian championship? Quite simply, not much – aside from avoiding getting into relegation trouble. It is easy for a big team to do, as Corinthians themselves will attest to, having gone down in 2007. Vasco da Gama are another of the Brazilian giants to have experienced demotion in recent times.
Palmeiras’ relegation reflects not just the problems at the club, but those inherent within Brazilian football. The shambolic organisation of club football, which takes place literally all year round, with barely a month’s break during December, damages the sport. The state championships from January to April are a waste of time, and the league should be played whilst the Libertadores is in full swing. The Copa do Brasil should come to its conclusion towards the end of the campaign, or after the conclusion.
Palmeiras will surely bounce back before long. But they are not the first, and are unlikely to be the last, giant of the Brazilian game to suffer the ignominy of relegation.