17 March 2010

The Panthers of Santarém

In the first two rounds of the Pará state championship, the Pará Football Federation (FPF) declared the stadium of São Raimundo E.C. unfit for competition without explainations. Two weeks later, without modifying the stadium at all, the FPF declared that the Colossus of the Tapajos fit to host a second round match of the Copa do Brasil between "A Pantera" and Botafogo F.C. of Rio de Janeiro. The 1 - 0 score line in favor of the team from Amazonia made the Santaremenses happy, for a few days. Following a protest lodged by Botafogo with the Brasilian Football Federation (CBF), it was revealed that the FPF delayed more than a week in registering three São Raimundo players. The decision was made to dock São Raimundo six points, annulling their home victory and ensuring that in the return leg in Rio de Janeiro, Botafogo would only need to tie to progress. The return leg was played on March 11 in the newst stadium in Brasil, the Stadium Rio (formerly known as the Estadio Olimpico João Havelange, Engenhão, or Fechadão). With three points to make up entering the game, The Panthers needed to win in regulation time and then win in penalties. 

The game ended 4-3 in favor of Botafogo, including a clear goal anulled for São Raimundo anulled by the referee with no foul or any sign of offside. People at the bars in Santarém were ripping their hair out in frustration. The global score was 4-4, with the 2009 Brazilian Serie D champions scoring 3 away goals, more than enough to see them advance under normal circumstances. In this game, which will register in the annals of football history as a mere curiostiy for only the most dedicated journalists to pour over, we can read the multiple forms of corruption and prejudice that pervade Brazilian football. 

The first form is the discrimination against teams from the interior of Pará originating in the capital Belém. The PFP is dominated by representatives of Paissandu and Remo, the traditional powerhouses (relatively) of the region. A few years ago, Paissandu was playing in the Brazilian Serie A, but has since fallen into the Serie D, which a small team from Santarém just won. Remo is unherard of inthe national scene and only disputes the Cameponato Paranense, and does so relatively poorly. So it's really no surprise that São Raimundo suffers at the hands of the big (relatively) boys from the capital. 

The second form is the prejudice stemming from the CBF, based in Rio and heavily influenced by the presidets of the 13 biggest clubs (known as the G-13), against teams from the north and north east of Brasil. The draws are favorable to the higher seeded teams, which are always from the south and south east. The cost of traveling is not subisdized, so São Raimundo, with a limited budget probably broke the bank in order to make a trip to Rio that they were very clearly going to lose, even if they won. 

The third form of corruption came in the form of the referee, who clearly annuled a legal goal. A São Raimundo vitory would have caused signficant problems for the CBF, the refereee and the general image of the Copa do Brasil in general. Not that there aren't enough insane things happening with Brasilian footy in the run up to the World Cup. 
At any rate, there was some major injustive served up to a national audience, but no one seemed to notice much.  I was so impressed with São Raimundo that I went out to buy a jersey, but, perhaps predictably, there are none to be had anywhere in the city. (for links, check the Portuguese version of this post). 

1 comment:

mathieu said...

The politics of soccer...


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