The talent, the gossip, the inside track
Celso de Campos Jr
I’ve mentioned before in this blog about the self-depreciating joke regarding the divine justice in Brazil.
But when I adapted it to the football world, I forgot to note that, besides putting boneheaded directors and referees in charge, God granted us with some of the most demented fans ever conceived.You may also have read about the Flamengo ultras who thought it was a good idea to drop a bomb on the training pitch to protest against the players.
Flamengo fans: Quite a raucous bunch when they get excited
And I haven't got round to enlightening you about the many other similar manifestations this season – such as Bahia’s bandits interrupting training and attacking the players. In recent history, individual players have also found themselves on the receiving end from so-called supporters.
A young Kaká was once bombarded with popcorn by some São Paulo fans, an event that preceded his departure from Brazil. Romário was also pummelled with popcorn by a bunch of Fluminense fans, who famously once threw a chicken on the pitch. This weekend, another regrettable and inexcusable incident took place in Brazil.
Palmeiras coach, Vanderlei Luxemburgo was ambushed by 20 thugs from the Mancha Verde ultra section at São Paulo airport, prior to the team’s departure to Rio de Janeiro. The hooligans attacked the gaffer, who broke his elbow trying to defend himself. Palmeiras' home defeat to Grêmio the previous Sunday – which virtually took Luxemburgo’s team out of the title race – sparked mass rage among the irate support. The cowards' attack shook the team, contributing significantly to their 5-2 defeat to Flamengo two days later.
Luxemburgo left with broken elbow after ambush
The physical assault on the coach would be unjustifiable under any circumstance – even if the team had just got relegated.
But it’s even more irrational when you know Luxemburgo’s squad was, just a week ago, second on the table, one point off the top. And that, earlier this year, he had guided Palmeiras to the São Paulo State Championship – their first major trophy since the 1999 Libertadores.The worst thing is that, as in the Flamengo bombing incident, the outbreak was viewed by many, including the media, as a normal event.
Journalists believe – and write – that, since Luxemburgo is paid a huge salary, he should have led the team to the title. Since he didn’t, he should handle the “pressure” that comes with the job.The pundits probably can’t see through their microscopic minds, but the message they are spreading is this: “The players are underperforming? Bomb them. That’s OK. The coach didn’t deliver the title? Attack him. No problem.”
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