Saturday, 31 July 2010

SC Corinthians Paulista (Brazil)

We've spoken about their interlopers from up country Corinthians Paranaense elsewhere on this list, but now it's time for the real deal - the one true Corinthians of Brazilian football - Sports Club Corinthians Paulista. Known variously as Big Team, The Almighty and The Bunch of Crazies, they are one of the most successful clubs in all Brazil, and the second  best supported team in the country, bested only by the enormous Flamengo. They the team that practically every one else wants to emulate, but it all started from very inauspicious beginnings.

Formed in 1910 by a bunch of European ex-pat labourers in São Paulo to take on the existing elite of local football, they named themselves after the English amateur gentleman's football team Corinthians FC, who had recently done a tour of exhibition matches in the area - and that Corinthian spirit has statyed with them through the ages, both in the way they play and the way they carry themselves off the pitch.

In 1982 the club took part in what came to be known as The Corinthians Democracy, a move that was to help steer the country away from military dictatorship. Led by the noted intellectuals Socrates and Wladimir, the players took elements of control away from the management and decided to make some major decisions on behalf of the club. Their suggestion to print Vote On The 15th on the back of their shirts to urge the people to vote in the elections that eventually rid the Brazil of their dictatorship once and for all is seen as one of the most important moments in their country's move to democracy.

And if that wasn't enough, they're pretty good at football too. They've won the Brazilian Série A four times, the Brazilian Cup three times, the São Paulo State Championship a record 26 times (three of them unbeaten), and were the very first winners of the FIFA World Club Tournament. They've made record in other unexpected ways too. In 1976 their fans descended on the Maracanã in Rio during the championship semi-final game against Fluminense in what became known as the Corinthian Invasion. Over 70,000 Paulista's took over the stadium in what is said to be the biggest human displacement in peacetime.

Like many Brazilian teams, they've got a couple of home stadiums - the 40,199 Estádio do Pacaembu for the big games, and the 17,900 Estádio Alfredo Schürig for the more meat and spuds matches. And like their many imitators their relationship with the black and white stripes is patchy at best. Their current first strip features the tiniest of black pinstripes in a field of white, although they also play in a shirt of mainly black with broad white bands - but of course being Brazil this can change at any time.

Their list of notable old boys reads like a hall of fame of football. Just listen to this little list... Rivelino, Garrincha, Dunga, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Sócrates, Dida, Freddy Rincón, Rivaldo and more recently Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tévez. There's also a slightly chunky buck-toothed marvel called Ronaldo who's just made the move there to see out his career. And believe me there's another couple of dozen names that would make you gasp just as much. They really are one of the greatest club sides in world football.

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