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Palmeiras – Another Brazilian giant bites the dust!

Supporters of the Sao Paulo outfit Palmeiras will have to come to terms with the fact that their club will be playing Serie B football in 2013 for the second time in their history.

Palmeiras’ relegation was confirmed on 18th November 2012 after a 1-1 away draw to Flamengo in Rio. And to rub salt into the wounds, they lost seven days later to another relegation outfit Atletico Goianiense 1-2 at home, which understandably made the partisan home crowd furious and pretty much summed up Palmeiras’ league season.

Amazingly though, in a season full of emotions, Palmeiras won the Copa do Brasil.  This qualified them for the 2013 Copa Libertadores second stage and lightened the mood for many fans of the Alviverde.  The English equivalent would be Birmingham winning the Carling Cup but being relegated that same season!

Palmeiras however are not the only Brazilian giants to have succumbed to Serie B in recent years;  both Vasco da Gama and Corinthians (Palmeiras’ fierce rivals) have seen the boot from the top flight.  Vasco was relegated in 2008 after a disastrous season, but they bounced straight back to the top flight . Corinthians was demoted to the second flight in 2007 but like Vasco bounced straight back as champions of Serie A after just one season.  Could Palmeiras do the same?

Chelsea fans should remember Luiz Felipe Scolari, Palmeiras’ manager up until September 2012, who departed from the club when they were languishing in 19th place.  Palmeiras signed Gilson Kleina from Ponte Preta to replace Scolari but performances did not improve and Palmeiras have now been relegated as a result.

No doubt next season Palmeiras supporters will totally swamp tiny grounds such as Bragantino, Sao Caetano and Boa Esporte. Statistics from Data Folha and CTS/Sensus from 2004 to 2007 show that Palmeiras have over 15 million fans in the country making them the fourth most supported club in Brazil after Flamengo (40 million+), Corinthians (25 million) and Sao Paulo (17 million). These figures, however, cannot be totally accurate, especially now we’re in 2012 and this writer believes that it is the Corinthians who are more likely to have the highest number of fans in south eastern Brazil.  For instance, Corinthians are noted to have more supporters in Sao Paulo than Flamengo do in all of Rio de Janeiro. Also many sport researchers have noted that there is often Flamengo bias coming out of sporting think tanks due to broadcasting reviews and sponsorship deals. Other statistical anomalies can be seen here:-

Palmeiras draw their core support historically from the Italian migrants within the city of Sao Paulo.  Over time the supporters’ base has stretched all over the country, mainly due to the club’s success and nowadays the supporters’ base is more diverse.  Fan Groups have popped up in the northern cities of Natal, Recife and Fortaleza due to historic migration trends and family ties to the club. Palmeiras’ largest fan groups are the Mancha Alviverde, TUP and Pork’s.

Palmeiras play their final game away to Santos FC on 1st December 2012. This game will be played for pride as both teams’ seasons have all but ended. Palmeiras has already been relegated and Santos is stuck in mid table mediocrity.

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